OPINION: Open Letter from Michael Garrett – Cooper’s Budget Compromise is Better for Guilford County
And just like that, we blew through the 100-day mark. It’s been that long since Governor Cooper submitted our compromise budget proposal to Senate and House leadership. Normally, one would expect to receive a counter-proposal, but this General Assembly is anything but normal.
For more than 100 days, the state legislature remained in-session doing minimal legislative work while Republican leaders in both chambers looked for enough votes to overturn the Governor’s veto of the budget. Each day that went on, the taxpayers shelled out $42,000. In the end, leadership adjourned the legislative session on Halloween and signaled that the battle will be continued in mid-January 2020.
I remain steadfast in sustaining Governor Cooper’s veto for one simple reason; the budget muscled through by Republican leadership doesn’t live up to our shared North Carolina values. There’s not enough space to highlight all the differences the Governor’s counter-proposal have with the Republican budget, so let’s focus on what impacts Guilford County the most.
Health care: More than 35,000 Guilford County residents stand to gain health insurance coverage under the Governor’s Medicaid expansion plan. Republican leaders of the NC Senate have refused to consider any form of expansion, even though you and I are already paying federal taxes which would cover for 90% of the cost. If we just say “Yes” to expansion, we’d create more than 2,700 jobs through 2020 right here at home, according to the Cone Health Foundation. This is the issue we hear more about than anything else from constituents, and I’m not backing down on this point.
Infrastructure: For decades, we’ve neglected North Carolina’s schools and public infrastructure. The Republican budget fails to incorporate an infrastructure bond, and that’s a mistake. Our Invest NC Bond proposal takes advantage of historically low interest rates and maintains the State’s conservative borrowing rates. This compromise proposal would put $3.5 billion to work, and get hammers swinging all across North Carolina. We’ve proposed $2 billion for public schools, $1 billion for the UNC system and community colleges, and $500 million for water and sewer systems. The NC Bond is a significant down-payment on a brighter future for our kids and our economy.
Education: The average teacher is making less now than before the recession a decade ago, accounting for inflation. That fact alone should embarrass us all. Republican leadership has argued that we can’t afford to do more, but that’s simply not true. The reality is we have to make a choice. Of states that have corporate taxes, North Carolina has the lowest rate in the country. So, we can cut corporate taxes further, or we can invest in our kids and teachers. I believe we should invest in our teachers and children, which is why our proposal includes an average raise of 9.1% for all teachers across two years.
Stay tuned for more developments in the new year. Please know my door is always open whenever you’d like to talk.
NC Senate – District 27