The decision for the five House Democrats thinking about voting to override Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto of the Republican budget became much tougher Monday, at least it should have.
A new report released by the N.C. Budget and Tax Center shows the budget would cost North Carolina more than 30,000 jobs next year, $1.3 billion in lost wages and $2.8 billion in reduced industry output.
The numbers alone ought to be startling enough to force the five Democrats to reconsider their support of the Republican budget or at least to ask for a postponement of Wednesday’s scheduled override vote so they can consider the implications of the report.
Then there is the study’s methodology, the exact same one used by researchers in a report prepared for legislative leaders earlier in the session that showed the tax cuts in the Republican budget would create thousands of jobs in the next year.
That study was done by the UNC Center for Competitive Economies but only looked at the tax cuts, not the huge reductions in state spending the budget makes in areas like Medicaid where state investments are matched two to one with federal dollars.
The author of the UNC study noted in a cover letter to legislative leaders that he only looked at one side of the equation, a point never mentioned by House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger when they are defending their budget proposal.
The BTC study looked at both sides, the jobs created by the tax cuts and the jobs lost by slashing public investments, and the conclusion is clear. The budget would be a massive blow to the state’s still sputtering economy and throw thousands of people out of work in both the public and private sectors.
Do the five Democrats really want to break with their party and their governor to cripple the state’s economy?
It is clear that voters don’t want them to override Governor Perdue’s veto. A survey released Monday by the Public Policy Polling in Raleigh found that only 23 percent of voters support the Republican budget.
Only 36 percent of voters believe that ending the temporary sales tax is more important than minimizing cuts to education. More than half the voters would rather leave the tax rate where it is and protect public schools. The survey was conducted before the BTC report revealed how many jobs the budget would cost the state.
And it’s not just the Democrats who should take another look at the budget they are poised to pass. Rank and file Republicans have been told by their leadership not only that the budget would create jobs and protect education, but that it is a plan that the majority of people in the state support.
Many lawmakers have parroted those talking points to the local papers in their districts, only to look foolish as their claims that no teachers will lose their jobs are proven false by story after story about layoffs in their own school districts.
There is still time for the five Democrats and rank and file Republicans to come to their senses and take another look at the budget before them.
The evidence is indisputable. It will cost the state 30,000 jobs and the majority of voters in North Carolina do not support the cuts it makes in education. That’s a pretty compelling case for saying no and trying again.
Chris Fitzsimon is director of N.C. Policy Watch