Families and businesses in North Carolina continued to see promising gains from the 2018 state legislative session as lawmakers remained committed to higher salaries for educators and state employees, increased investments in public schools and a successful pro-growth jobs agenda.
The accomplishments mark another year of promises kept by the Republican-led General Assembly to deliver tax relief, a better jobs climate and dramatically higher investments in North Carolina education systems.
“The promises kept by North Carolina lawmakers to dramatically increase educator and state employee pay, build a stronger public school system and grow our private sector will benefit citizens and businesses for years to come,” said Speaker Tim Moore.
Economic Accomplishments of the 2017-2018 N.C. Legislative Session
Business reforms, balanced budgets and a new transformative incentive tool to attract cutting-edge industries led another round of job-friendly legislation in the North Carolina General Assembly in the 2017-18 sessions.
- Balanced the state budget with responsible spending that prioritizes public education, strengthens core services, and saves for future emergencies.
- Lowered taxes for families ensuring 99 percent of taxpayers will pay lower or no state income taxes at all and more than tripling the zero-tax bracket for married filers to $20,000, passing 30 states in 3 years of Tax Foundation rankings, exempting 1.5 million working people from owing any state income tax – 30% of all filers.
- Built on business tax reforms that helped create more than half a million new jobs since 2011 by further reducing corporate income tax rates and simplifying and cutting the franchise tax on small businesses.
- Transformed the state’s job recruitment tools expected to help secure thousands of new jobs and billions in new investments to North Carolina.
- Expanded statewide access to high-speed broadband, establishing the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program to connect unserved communities in the state’s rural areas.
- Saved a record rainy day reserve by increasing the savings fund to its highest total ever of $2 billion and automatically directing funds into savings each year.
- Removed more burdensome regulations from the state’s business climate to eliminate red tape that chokes economic growth.
- Invested heavily in transportation needs to accelerate highway projects and bridge replacements, fund new cranes at the Port of Wilmington, reduce congestion and spur economic development through the Strategic Transportation Investments Program (STIP) and the Build N.C. Act.
- Created one-of-a-kind Unfunded Liability Solvency Reserve to address an estimated $50 billion in unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities on the state’s balance sheet by directing overflow appropriations and savings into the new fund.
Education Accomplishments of the 2017-2018 N.C. Legislative Session
North Carolina families are experiencing a new era for education thanks to five consecutive teacher pay raises, dramatically higher education investments and expanded education options for students in pre-K, K-12 schools, and the state’s flagship university system.
- Expanded teacher recruitment and retention incentives through the NC Teaching Fellows, the Advanced Teaching Roles Pilot, the New Teacher Support Program, Future Teachers of NC, and salary supplements that helped North Carolina rank #1 in National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certifications.
- Assisted counties with school construction by allocating over $370 million in lottery funds to local education infrastructure and expanding the need-based school capital fund from $75 million to $117 million for Tier 1 and Tier 2 rural counties.
- Connected every K-12 school to high-speed broadband access, the first public school system in the United States to achieve that milestone. through recurring funding to the School Connectivity Initiative, four years ahead of schedule.
- Expanded workforce development opportunities for students seeking career and technical educations by funding Future Ready Students Act grants, the NC Works Career Coaches Program, the Short-Term Workforce Training program, ApprenticeshipNC, and the ConnectNC bond.
- Increased funding for public education by more than $700 million and continued major education reforms to reduce class sizes, fund advanced placement testing fees and provide coding and mobile app development grants to help students succeed.
- Raised teacher salaries for the fifth consecutive year, providing teachers an average 9% pay increase over two years, bringing the average increase to teachers’ base pay to nearly 20 percent, giving half of N.C. teachers a $10,000 raise since 2014, and posting the 3rd largest teacher pay increase in the nation since 2014.
- Raised principal and assistant principal pay over 6% on average, providing average increases over $3,000 to both groups of public school leaders.
- Provided performance bonuses to public school teachers who improve academic outcomes for their students through Read-to-Achieve Bonuses, AP/IB Teacher Bonuses, Career and Technical Education Teacher Bonuses, and Math and Reading Performance Bonuses.
- Made North Carolina schools safer, providing $35 million for school safety initiatives, including new grant programs to support students in crisis, school safety training, safety equipment and youth mental health personnel.
- Took steps to reduce the testing burden on students in North Carolina and eliminate unnecessary exams not required by state or federal law.
- Made college far more affordable and accessible by fully funding the N.C. Promise Program to guarantee in-state students at three universities $500 tuition per semester, guaranteeing fixed-rate tuition and fees over four years for higher education students, and supporting the ConnectNC bond cash flow.
- Added thousands of kids to the state’s pre-K program and developed a plan to eliminate 100 percent of the state’s waitlist for at-risk children by 2021.
- Provided low-income families with education options through the Opportunity Scholarship program offering need-based learning opportunities to our state’s most vulnerable students.
- Directed surplus computers to low-income students at no additional cost by requiring state equipment be refurbished for disadvantaged kids – a win-win for taxpayers.
- Increased textbook and digital resource funding to $73.9 million in 2018, provided $44.8 million for the School Technology Fund to modernize education resources and appropriated $47.4 million/year to local systems for school supplies.
- Provided special needs students with learning options through Education Savings Accounts that offer new education opportunities to young people with disabilities.
Other Accomplishments of the 2017-2018 N.C. Legislative Session
- Passed comprehensive energy reform to modernize state policy and protect ratepayers with competitive costs while encouraging continued development of renewable power through the market-driven ‘Competitive Energy Solutions Act.’
- Increased pay for hardworking state employees, including a new living wage minimum of $31,200, as well as significant raises for State Highway Patrol troopers and correctional officers.
- Improved prison safety, allocating $15 million in additional funding to enhance prison safety, and support security and support “man-down technology.”
- Ensured access to clean, safe drinking water through a comprehensive House River Quality Committee setting aside more than $10 million to provide drinking water to those impacted by GenX and to fund the state’s efforts to address threats to safe drinking water.
- Provided more than $160 million in needed disaster relief to families and communities devastated by Hurricane Matthew, bringing total disaster relief funds to $360 million since 2016.
- Gave voters opportunities to amend the North Carolina Constitution to keep income taxes low, preserve the right to hunt and fish, strengthen victims’ rights, establish a merit system to fill judicial vacancies, ensure a bipartisan Board of Elections, and establish voter ID.
- Helped combat the opioid addiction crisis by passing the STOP Act to ensure highly-addictive prescription drugs are responsibly administered and not over-prescribed, and the HOPE Act to give law enforcement the tools they need to battle the opioid crisis.
- Funded the changes necessary to “raise the age” in North Carolina, ensuring 16- and 17-year olds suspected of misdemeanor offenses and less serious felonies will be tried as juveniles instead of adults by December 2019.
- Protected North Carolina’s family farms, passing the N.C. Farm Act of 2018 aimed at supporting the state’s largest industry and ensuring that farmers have legal protections in the state’s right to farm law.
- Strengthened laws against human trafficking and funding to increase awareness of the warning signs of human trafficking, heighten penalties for traffickers and address massage and bodywork licensure issues.
- Overhauled North Carolina’s social service system to address substantial issues in North Carolina’s child welfare program to ensure the safety of kids.
- Expanded the line of duty death benefit coverage for brave law enforcement officers and first responders, while doubling the benefit from $50,000 to $100,000 and ensuring all families of the victims from recent prison attacks receive that benefit.
- Continued the Medicaid transformation to managed behavioral care to fix the program’s fee-for-service delivery model, replace it with cost-effective reform, and avoid massive Medicaid deficits of years past through the Medicaid Transformation Reserve.