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Real costs of Sen. Jeff Jackson’s imaginary agenda

Democratic Sen. Jeff Jackson of Charlotte made the best of a legislative snow day last week, tweeting and posting a blizzard of imaginary actions he took to make North Carolina “a national model for progress.”

Jackson’s snow day agenda quickly went viral, becoming a BuzzFeed sensation and landing him on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show.

Now a conservative group has added up the cost of Jackson’s initiatives.

“One thing missing from the hubbub … was any pause to consider just how much all this wishful thinking would cost North Carolina taxpayers,” Brian Balfour, director of policy for the Civitas Institute, wrote on his blog. “Well, that’s why you have us.”

Expanding Medicaid, he wrote, would cost $3.1 billion over 10 years. Reversing cuts to the university system would run $235 million. Making “heavy” investments in wind and solar energy “would likely be tens of millions.”

So would expanding broadband access, improving technology in the judicial system and expanding mental health care for prisoners.

Jackson’s proposals to enact independent redistricting and outlaw “puppy mills” would have minimal state costs, Balfour wrote.

Using the Civitas’ numbers, Jackson said expanding Medicaid to 500,000 people would cost about 1 percent of the state’s $21 billion budget.

“By their numbers, we could reverse all the cuts to the university system, invest heavily in wind and solar, expand broadband access to rural areas, support early childhood education and still cut taxes for the middle class for significantly less than the price of their tax policy,” he said. “I’ll take that deal.”