Viewpoint

Invest N.C. budget surplus carefully

From an editorial in the Fayetteville Observer Monday:

It was a vintage year for revenue in North Carolina, state officials reported last month.

North Carolina’s General Fund just kept growing beyond expectations throughout the fiscal year, which ended June 30.

By then, it was about $445 million ahead of estimates. Much of the extra money came from personal and corporate income taxes.

Lawmakers promptly used that to justify cutting the corporate income tax rate from 5 percent to 4 percent in 2016.

Since North Carolina’s corporate income tax was one of the highest in the South, that was a good idea.

But that’s enough cutting for now.

Let’s let some of that money accumulate while we make certain that it’s recurring budget revenue, not just a one-year windfall.

And if it does turn out to be a long-term trend, let’s do some important things, starting with boosting public education funding and rehiring all those teacher assistants who have been laid off, or will be soon.

And whether or not it’s recurring, let’s plug some of it into the state rainy-day fund, because another rainy day will come, no matter how much we hope it won’t.

Economic cycles don’t stop moving, and what goes up will inevitably go down.

Let’s be ready for the next downturn.

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