The North Carolina Senate concluded a productive legislative long session Friday morning, passing its second quickest adjournment in a long session since 1973.
“I am proud of the hard work and discipline of my Republican colleagues, who fulfilled their promises to further reduce taxes on middle-class families and job-creators, provide a fourth consecutive teacher pay raise, appropriate nearly $700 million more for public education, and rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Matthew – all while saving for a rainy day,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham.) “Republicans’ ongoing commitment to spending discipline and tax relief have resulted in consecutive years of balanced budgets and large revenue surpluses, while other states that subscribe to liberal tax-and-spend philosophies, like Illinois, are going bankrupt.”
Among other actions, Senate Republicans:
- Adopted a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that funds core services, strengthens public education, shores up savings reserves and grows North Carolina’s economy.
- Delivered major additional tax relief that will save middle class families and small businesses $530 million over the next two years. When fully implemented, the reductions will result in 99 percent of taxpayers either paying less or paying no state personal income taxes at all.
- Continued the business tax reforms that have helped create more than half a million new jobs since 2011 by further reducing corporate income tax rates and simplifying and cutting the franchise tax on small businesses.
- Exempted retired military veterans from paying state income taxes on their pensions.
- Expanded tools to recruit new businesses to the state, including ‘transformative projects’ that could employ thousands of North Carolinians.
- Increased funding for public education by more than $700 million over the next two years and continued major education reforms to reduce class sizes and ensure students receive the tools they need to succeed.
- Continued a multiple-year plan to dramatically increase teacher pay, providing teachers an average 3.3 percent raise this year and 9.6 percent raise over two years, while also ensuring they earn far more over the course of their careers. The Senate also provided substantial pay raises to school principals and assistant principals.
- Provided additional performance-based bonuses to more public school teachers who help improve academic outcomes for their students.
- Acted to make college far more affordable and accessible by fully funding the N.C. Promise Program, which guarantees in-state undergraduate students at three schools across the state pay just $500 per semester for tuition.
- Ensured the state is well-prepared for the future by increasing the rainy day fund to its highest total ever. The savings reserve is now at $1.838 billion, the highest figure in state history. Lawmakers also increased the amount of state funds automatically going into savings each year.
- Provided an additional $100 million in needed disaster relief assistance to families and communities devastated by Hurricane Matthew.
- Passed sweeping changes to the state’s burdensome regulatory environment to cut through red tape that chokes off economic growth.
- Removed the distraction of HB2 while keeping men out of women’s bathrooms.
- Invested hundreds of millions of dollars in pay raises and bonuses for hardworking state employees and a permanent cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees.
- Passed and sent the House a measure to deter ‘sanctuary cities’ in North Carolina by creating penalties for local governments, law enforcement agencies and public universities that defy federal and state laws against illegal immigration.
- Helped combat the opioid addiction crisis by passing the STOP Act to ensure highly-addictive prescription drugs are responsibly administered and not over-prescribed. Lawmakers also directed $10 million toward statewide opioid and substance abuse treatment.
- Added thousands of slots to the state’s pre-K program and eliminated 75 percent of the waitlist for at-risk children.
- Helped ensure our state ethics and elections laws are enforced fairly by creating a bipartisan ethics and elections enforcement board with appointments evenly split between the two major political parties in the state.
- Began the process to “raise the age,” aligning North Carolina with the overwhelming majority of states that try 16- and 17-year olds suspected of misdemeanor offenses and less serious felonies as juveniles.
- Invested hundreds of millions of additional dollars for transportation, including a $320 million increase to the Strategic Transportation Investments Program (STIP) to allow 100 new highway projects to be built over a ten-year period, improving mobility and safety, reducing congestion and spurring economic development. In addition, hundreds of structurally deficient bridges will be replaced and thousands of miles of roads resurfaced.
- Allocated more than $100 million in lottery funds to assist economically struggling, rural counties with critical public school building needs.
- Completed a thorough and transparent confirmation hearing process of the governor’s cabinet secretaries, where senators evaluated their qualifications, possible conflicts of interest and willingness to follow the law.
Strengthened laws against human trafficking and laws to increase awareness of the warning signs of trafficking.
- Funded much-needed additional positions in the state court system, including dozens of new deputy clerks of court and assistant district attorneys.
- Joined 47 other states with modernized ABC laws, helping boost the state’s restaurant and tourism industry.
- Overhauled North Carolina's social service system to address substantial issues in North Carolina’s child welfare program to ensure the safety of kids.
- Created a new North Carolina Teaching Fellows program to attract and retain new teachers to low-performing schools and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math courses.