We have written countless times in this space about how the Reform Majority in the NC General Assembly has been wisely frugal with the people’s money. North Carolina’s fiscal responsibility has been called the “gold standard” and is a shining beacon for conservatives across the country as a model for doing it right and maintaining financial stability.
The Reform Majority’s tax reform accomplishments in the last ten years have been remarkable on their own. But what has been truly amazing has been the strong will by the legislative leadership to be disciplined and simply not spend money when it came under immense political pressure – whether from the liberal spendthrift opposition or the headline-happy media.
How ever you want to analyze it, it simply comes down to this. The legislative leadership has not spent money our state doesn’t have – the same way most families try to do with their personal family budgets.
In our latest February 22-25 Carolina Partnership for Reform survey of 500 registered NC voters, 65% of North Carolina voters supported that approach, agreeing that we should “use the money it has available” to pay for roads, schools, and water and sewer infrastructure.
Conservatives more than anybody believe in a strong state infrastructure to make sure we can conduct commerce, educate our children, raise our families in a safe and healthy environment, and create and work in successful businesses. That’s a fundamental of good government.
North Carolina voters in this poll showed they support the “steady as she goes” approach to paying for these infrastructure needs – and oppose going into debt just to complete all projects at once. That makes good sense in our household budgets and good sense in spending taxpayers’ money.
$4 Billion Budget Surplus. Another question in our survey was about the state possibly having a surplus of over $4 billion in its coffers this year – and what legislators should do with it. 39% said Spend it. 29% said Return it to taxpayers. 28% said Save it.
In the crosstab breakdowns, the answers interestingly came out about what you might expect. Among Republicans, only 23% said Spend it. 28% said Return it. While 37% said Save it.
Among Democrats, 53% said Spend it. 29% said Return it. And only 16% said Save it. True to form.
When asked in the survey where budget surplus money should be spent, voters ranked the following items by priority:
The question produced a wide assortment of responses to the question with public school construction and renovation at the top of the list. And since we asked what the next most important priority would be, the two combinations at the top of the list tied at 42% of the people said school construction and water and sewer infrastructure improvements.
Since we consistently have praised the Reform Majority for their diligent efforts to build up the Rainy Day Fund money in the state budget in the last decade, one interesting note is the support for using surplus money to fully fund the Rainy Day Fund.
Of the voters who said the top priority should be to resupply the Rainy Day Fund, 20% were Republicans, 15% were Unaffiliated voters and only 6% were Democrats.
The overall picture from these poll questions showed general support for the “steady as she goes” course set by the Reform Majority leadership captains as they have provided fiscal stability over the last ten years. Even with the trials and tribulations and up and downs brought to our state by the COVID-19 pandemic, voters still see the wisdom in that approach.