A Winning Session for Freedom!
Less than two weeks ago, the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned from the 2013 Legislative Session. As we take a look back at this historic session, fiscal conservatives and supporters of economic freedom have plenty to celebrate!
Reforms to state government, decreasing the state tax burden and education reforms are only part of what a conservative-minded General Assembly was able to do between January and July.
In seven short months, your leaders at the General Assembly:
· Implemented comprehensive tax reform that will provide major tax relief to all North Carolina families and make our state more attractive to job-creating businesses. Following decades of liberal governance, North Carolina had the highest taxes in the Southeast. The General Assembly passed a tax reform plan that simplifies the state’s 1930s Depression-era tax code, cuts personal and corporate income tax rates, eliminates the death tax and ends dozens of loopholes for special interests. The reforms will make our economy competitive and immediately move North Carolina from the bottom of national rankings to the 17th best business tax climate in America.
· Adopted a balanced, fiscally responsible state budget that invests in core services, streamlines state government, strengthens public education and grows North Carolina’s economy. The state budget safeguards North Carolina’s long-term fiscal health by paying for the core functions of government, adding to the state’s rainy day fund, while cutting taxes for all North Carolinians.
· Expanded school choice for all North Carolina children. The General Assembly created two separate school voucher programs: the Opportunity Scholarship program for low-income children to attend private schools, and the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants for disabled children to attend private or home schools. On top of that, the General Assembly also passed a law to allow charter schools to expand by one grade per year without having to gain permission from the State Board of Education.
· Passed major education reforms to strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates, reward effective teachers and give parents tools to make better informed decisions about their children’s education. The State Budget increased accountability in the classroom by employing teachers through contracts that are renewed based on job performance. The conservative General Assembly also continued its commitment to implementing a pay for excellence system by including $10.2 million to fund annual pay raises for the most effective teachers.
· Approved bipartisan legislation to spur our economy by tapping into North Carolina’s abundant energy resources. The Domestic Energy Jobs Act is a comprehensive energy bill that paves the way for a flourishing onshore and offshore energy sector.
· Eliminated all state taxpayer funded campaigns. In 2004 North Carolina instituted a program by which candidates for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals positions could use taxpayer dollars to fund their campaigns. It was expanded to Council of State races in 2008. A bill passed into law this session that ended this program for good.
· Reformed our broken unemployment insurance program, setting a pathway for repaying North Carolina’s $2.5 billion debt to the federal government – brought about by years of mismanagement by previous leadership. Under the new plan, North Carolina will be out of debt by 2016 – freeing up capital and providing certainty for businesses to create jobs.
· Defunded the North Carolina Rural Center. The fallout of a recent state audit that excoriated the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center caused the Center to be de-funded within the State Budget.
· Blocked the creation of an Obamacare mandated state healthcare exchange. The President’s health care law directs the states to create a health care exchange by January 1, 2014. Conservatives in the North Carolina General Assembly promptly passed Senate Bill 4, which blocked both the creation of a state healthcare exchange and an expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina.
Before the session began, one conservative leader was quoted by the Raleigh News & Observer as saying this agenda was “breathtaking.” I could not agree more.
While the fight for complete economic freedom is never complete, North Carolina took major steps this year in the advancement of liberty!
I want you to know that none of this could have happened without active conservatives like you helping AFP drive the debate on economic issues. Let’s keep up the fight!
North Carolina State Director Americans for Prosperity