NORTH CAROLINA: MOVING ONWARD
The 2017 Legislative Session of the North Carolina General was very productive for our Republican members as we continued to build on the campaign promises we made in 2010. Our hard work and dedication to conservative principles continue to move North Carolina onward.
“We are here to help North Carolina’s economy grow by being good stewards of public dollars, offering students an excellent education system and providing middle-class tax relief wherever we can. The House agenda is focused on the prosperity of our people – North Carolina natives and new arrivals alike – and making the tough choices and key reforms necessary to improve state government and secure a prosperous future for our citizens. Thanks to the hard work of the Republican-led General Assembly, North Carolina families can have confidence that they live in one of the best states to build a high quality of life – one with sound financial footing, low taxes and record savings that prepare us for emergencies. Republicans’ pro-growth tax relief, education investments and economic reforms allow small businesses to invest with the assurance that North Carolina offers a well-trained workforce and top-tier opportunities for job creation.” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland)
ECONOMY & JOBS
Unleashing the power of the free market has been a top priority of House Republicans. The government does not create jobs, but it can sure be an obstacle to job creation and economic growth. We strive to enact policy that removes those barriers and fosters an environment conducive to growth and prosperity.
House Republicans continue our efforts to streamline the state’s rulemaking process, simplify bureaucratic procedures and update government regulations facing citizens and businesses across the state.
SB 16 Regulatory Reform Act of 2017 embraces recommendations from the Joint Administrative Procedures Oversight Committee, legislative proposals, and suggestions from state policy stakeholders. Simply put, this legislation eliminates and improves excessive, duplicative and onerous regulations that burden North Carolinians and the state’s economy.
2017 SB 131 Regulatory Reform Act of 2016-17
RIGHT TO WORK
proposed a constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for working North Carolinians against forced unionization.
HB 819 Protect Right to
Work Constitutional Amendment and would let voters decide whether to strengthen workers’ rights in a ballot referendum during the November 6, 2018, election. The proposed constitutional amendment would protect North Carolina’s ‘Right to Work’ status by prohibiting employers from forcing workers to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment.
House Republicans proposed HB 68 BRIGHT
Futures Act to connect rural residents of the state to broadband services and help underserved regions attract economic development opportunities of the 21st century. The legislation would accelerate economic investment and grow rural economies by providing digital infrastructure to help businesses expand across North Carolina. The BRIGHT Futures Act addresses gaps in digital infrastructure that affect more than 3 million North Carolinians in 85 counties.
In July 2017 North Carolina received four national economic distinctions as the #1 state for starting a business in a study released July 3, the #5 best state for business in CNBC rankings on July 11, one of only twelve states with a unanimous ‘AAA’ bond rating on July 6, and on July 11 was reported as the #5 state for budget solvency by a George Mason University Mercatus Center study.
BUDGET & TAXES
North Carolina’s economy is expanding rapidly after Republicans in the state General Assembly cut billions in personal income and business taxes while changing bad government regulations to improve the state’s jobs climate since 2011. North Carolina had the fastest-growing state economy in the country since 2013.
North Carolina’s financial stability in 2017 stands in stark contrast to 2011, when Republicans gained control of the state General Assembly and began repaying a $2 billion debt from last decade. By repaying the debt ahead of schedule and saving $1.8 billion in rainy day reserves, North Carolina has made a $4 billion swing from debt to savings in six years, while lowering sales tax rates, income tax rates, and corporate tax rates over the same period.
North Carolina now has over $1.8 billion in its Savings Reserve account.
2017 BUDGET The budget proposal includes a plan to cut personal income tax rates and raise the standard deduction to add 95,000 North Carolinians to the zero-tax bracket, building on Republicans’ tax relief and reform already provided to North Carolinians since 2011. As a result, millions of middle-class families and job-creating small businesses will keep more of their earnings under this year’s plan. Budget officials expect 99 percent of taxpayers to either pay less or no state personal income taxes at all under the 2017 tax relief plan. The Republican-led General Assembly has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in budget surpluses – and billions in savings reserves – through tax relief, balanced budgeting and economic growth since 2011. Last decade, North Carolinians were dealt teacher pay cuts and billions in budget deficits despite Democrats’ raising sales tax rates in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Key provisions of the 2017 budget include:
SALARIES & BENEFITS
- Keeps the plan to dramatically increase average teacher pay from last year’s budget, investing more than $100 million in the first year alone. This is in addition to the substantial teacher pay raises legislators passed in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- Incorporates a new plan to let highly-qualified new teachers begin at a higher pay grade on the salary schedule, providing a financial incentive to those who accept positions in low-performing schools, are licensed in special education or STEM classes or meet other criteria.
- Includes roughly $25 million to expand a performance-based bonus program to top-performing 4th and 5th-grade reading teachers and 4th-8th-grade math teachers, based on EVAAS growth scores.
- Allocates $10 million over two years for a bonus program for veteran teachers with more than 25 years of experience.
- Provides more than $35 million to substantially increase principal and assistant principal pay, including funds for performance bonuses for principals.
- Includes $10 million in additional compensation for community college
- Provides a $1,000 salary increase to state employees.
- Offers experienced-based step increases to teachers, State Highway Patrol troopers, clerks, and magistrates.
- Provides $10 million in the biennium toward hard-to- hire positions across state government, such as health care technicians and nurses.
- Designates roughly $4 million to allow Gov. Cooper to increase the base salary ranges for many state workers.
- Increases funding for public education by nearly $700 million over two years.
- Fully funds K-12, community college, and public university enrollment growth.
- Allocates more than $100 million from lottery funds over the biennium for grants to economically struggling, rural counties to assist with critical public school building needs.
- Invests an additional $11 million in textbooks and digital resources and increases funding for children with disabilities.
- Codifies the legislature’s intent to use data it is currently gathering from local school systems in accordance with state law to fund a new salary allotment for kindergarten through fifth-grade program enhancement (music, arts, physical education) teachers beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.
- Supports the new N.C. Teaching Fellows Program through the N.C. Education Endowment Fund.
- Restores funding to Eastern North Carolina STEM and extends the “TA to Teacher” pilot program in the 14 local school districts originally designated for expansion.
- Protects the Read to Achieve, Teach for America, and Communities in Schools programs from being cut by the Department of Public Instruction to fund bureaucracy.
- Provides additional assistance to community colleges for workforce training programs.
- Honors the commitment to fully fund the N.C. Promise Program, which guarantees in-state undergraduate students at three schools across the state pay just $500 per semester for tuition.
- Includes over $18 million in new funding for medical education, including funding increases to the UNC School of Medicine and to the school’s Asheville campus.
- Provides additional stabilization funds to Elizabeth City State University to help get the school on solid financial ground.
- Offers $2.5 million each year of the biennium to support doctoral programs
at North Carolina A&T University.
- Directs $1.5 million to the Cheatham-White Scholarship Program, which will provide state matching funds for up to 20 scholarships at both North Carolina Central University and North Carolina A&T University, beginning in the 2018 fall semester.
HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES
- Provides more than $27 million over two years to add 3,525 new pre-K slots – eliminating 75 percent of the waitlist for at-risk children.
- Upgrades the Controlled Substance Reporting System that will use advanced analytics to detect and fight prescription drug abuse.
- Allocates $15 million over two years to community health centers, rural health centers, free clinics and other health services providers in rural and underserved areas that assist the uninsured.
- Invests $18 million to improve North Carolina’s child welfare program, including new training and prevention programs, and nearly $4 million to improve accountability and oversight of the system.
- Earmarks close to $3 million to provide support for additional foster children in the system.
- Continues preparing for the transition to Medicaid reform by allocating $75 million to grow the Medicaid Transformation Reserve.
- Includes more than $12 million for 400 new innovation waiver slots for people with intellectual and other related developmental disabilities that are at risk for institutional care.
- Designates $10 million for opioid and substance abuse treatment
- Allocates $19 million from the sale of the Dorothea Dix property to fund
behavioral health beds.
JUSTICE & PUBLIC SAFETY
- Begins the process to “raise the age” in North Carolina, ensuring 16- and 17-year olds suspected of misdemeanor offenses and less serious felonies would be tried as juveniles instead of adults by December 2019, and establishes a Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee to develop specific plans for implementation.
- Strengthens laws against human trafficking and funds signage to increase awareness of the warning signs of trafficking.
- Funds needed additional positions in the state court system, including dozens of new deputy clerks of court and assistant district attorneys.
- Provides more than $4 million for law enforcement training for North Carolina officers.
TAXES & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
- Reduces the tax burden on North Carolina families and small businesses by cutting the personal income tax rate from 5.499 to 5.25 percent in 2019, and by increasing the amount of income that is exempt from state income tax.
- Lowers the corporate income tax rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent in 2019, continuing the business tax reforms that have helped create more than half a million new jobs since Republicans took control of the state legislature in 2011.
- Simplifies and reduces the franchise tax on small businesses by cutting what is effectively a statewide property tax on small businesses and creating a flat $200 tax on the first $1 million of a business’s net worth.
- Provides over $4 million to support tourism advertising as well as domestic and international advertising to promote economic development.
- Allocates close to $4 million for revitalization grants in towns and cities across the state.
AGRICULTURE & ENVIRONMENT
- Increases funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Tobacco Trust Fund and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund.
- Expands support for the aquaculture industry and provides funding for dredging to ensure valuable economic activity at the North Carolina coast can continue.
- Allocates over $750,000 to expand international marketing of North Carolina agricultural products.
- Provides funding for engineers to improve dam safety and review emergency action plans to help prevent catastrophic flooding.
- Sets aside $2.3 million to purchase a new firefighting aircraft in the wake of devastating wildfires in Western North Carolina.
- Provides $250,000 to the Department of Agriculture to continue fighting against federal overreach in the form of the new Waters of the United States definition after the Cooper Administration withdrew from the federal lawsuit challenging this unprecedented land grab.
- Increases funding for the Strategic Transportation Investments Program (STIP) by $320 million over two years, which will allow 100 new highway projects to be added over a ten-year period.
- Includes $241 million to improve structurally deficient bridges across the state, adds $143 million to improve the condition and safety of existing roads, increases contract resurfacing by $20 million and increases funding for pavement preservation by $30 million, extending the life of thousands of miles of roads.
- Invests $100 million to fund immediate need construction projects across the state that improve mobility and safety, reduce congestion and spur economic development.
- Includes $208 million over two years for a Roadside Environmental Fund dedicated to ensuring the safety and beautification of the state’s highways.
- Modernizes the state’s transportation network by providing additional funding to airports across the state for infrastructure improvements, and to the State Ports Authority for infrastructure and dredging needs.
OTHER BUDGET PRIORITIES
- Brings the rainy day fund to $1.838 billion, or 8.2 percent of last year’s budget – the largest dollar amount and percentage in state history.
- Adds $125 million to make needed repairs and renovations to state and university facilities.
- Helps preserve North Carolina’s military operations by allocating $2 million for the next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
- Continues the commitment to improving government transparency by funding a website that makes every state agency, county, and local school district budget available for citizens to view online.
- Aims to make government operations more efficient by investing in a fully-consolidated statewide Enterprise Resource Planning system.
- Helps the office of the State Auditor conduct more specialized audits and allocates funding to assist the state Department of Revenue and Department of Insurance in identifying and preventing fraud.
Simply put, we have put more money directly into the classrooms to ensure they are benefiting our children.
House Republicans increased education funding by more than $818 million and affirmed our dedication to our teachers by giving them a fourth conservative pay raise – nearly 10% over ten years. North Carolina had the fastest rising teacher pay in the nation since 2014.
The North Carolina House Committee on Higher Education approved legislation on Tuesday to re-establish the state’s Teaching Fellows program. The proposal would provide a student loan forgiveness program for educators in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) subjects who commit to teaching in the state.
To achieve smaller class sizes in kindergarten, first, second and third grades – which research shows lead to improved student outcomes, HB 13 allows districts to comply with a district average of 20 students per class and an individual class maximum of 23 students for the 2017-18 school year.
Legislation to provide workforce training and improve career readiness for students seeking jobs across North Carolina. The legislation allows high school students to receive academic credit for pursuing career certifications and credentials required by either an industry or the state. Currently, high school students can only receive academic credit towards a career technical education certificate or diploma.
PROTECTING OUR CITIZENS
The primary role of government is to protect and serve all citizens of our great state.
RAISE THE AGE
The legislation that would raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina to include 16 and 17-year- olds accused of nonviolent crimes.
HB 280 Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act. Its provision to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction applies to crimes committed on or after December 1, 2019.
For serious crimes classified as A-E felonies in North Carolina, 16 and 17- year-olds could still be tried as adults in the state court system. Violations of motor vehicle law would also remain excluded from juvenile jurisdiction.
The Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act also provides victims an opportunity to request reviews of decisions not to file juvenile petitions and increases the information available on juveniles for court proceedings, HB 280 further authorizes statewide school-justice partnerships, requires juvenile justice training for law enforcement officers, provides enhanced sentencing for offenses committed as part of criminal gang activity and establishes a Juvenile Jurisdiction Advisory Committee.
House Republicans directed $100 million of disaster recovery funds in the state budget to aid Hurricane Matthew, tropical storm and wildfire recovery efforts spanning housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and education in communities across North Carolina.
North Carolina has built a $1.8 billion savings reserve, a state record in total dollars and percentage of the state budget, to prepare for future natural disasters. Our members continue to work with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure the funds are effectively and efficiently reaching the communities and people in need, instead of getting held up in the government bureaucracy.
In 2015, more than 1,400 of our fellow North Carolinians died because of a deadly epidemic sweeping the nation and walloping North Carolina – the opioid crisis.
Members of the North Carolina House Republicans have been working tirelessly in a bipartisan manner to develop legislative solutions to this ongoing epidemic. We have worked with stakeholders on all sides of the healthcare arena to ensure North Carolinians have the help they need to deal with this crisis.
We authored and passed Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act.
Four Republican leaders filed legislation seeking to reform the state’s child welfare and social service systems to serve better and protect vulnerable citizens. House Rules Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett), Speaker Pro Tempore Sarah Stevens (R-Surry), Senior Appropriations Chairman Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) and Representative Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), Chairman of the House Homelessness, Foster Care and Dependency Committee, introduced HB 608 the Family/Child Protection and Accountability Act. Lawmakers say the current child welfare system is insufficient and cannot meet its responsibilities because there is no consistent model of care across a fragmented system of 100 county social services agencies, complicating state oversight.
House Republicans moved legislation to increase penalties and enhance prosecution for gang members who commit crimes associated with criminal gang activity in North Carolina.
HB 138 ‘Revise Gang Laws’ changes gang activity to a sentencing enhancement rather than a separate criminal offense in North Carolina. It strengthens state law by allowing prosecutors to increase penalties for gang activity without seeking separate convictions against gang members.
The legislation would increase both misdemeanor and felony convictions by one class if committed by a member of a gang as part of illegal gang activity. A crime would be enhanced by two classes if committed by a ‘gang leader.’
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
House Republicans stood firm to protect your constitutional right to free speech. HB 527 – Restore/Preserve Campus Free Speech, sponsored by Rep. Chris Millis (R Pender) and Rep. Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe), directs the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to develop, adopt, and implement a systemwide policy preserving First Amendment protections at public universities.