Wednesday, July 31, 2013

NC General Assembly

Tax Reform Bolsters Budgets of Families & Businesses
Governor Pat McCrory signed comprehensive tax reform into law on Tuesday, July 23.

“I came to the governor’s office a few short months ago with a sense of urgency and resolve to put North Carolinians back to work," said Governor McCrory. "I firmly believe that this reform package will prove to be critical to growing North Carolina's economy and getting people back to work.  This tax reform package puts more money in families’ budgets and will restore confidence for North Carolina businesses. Because of this package, job creators will think about relocating to our great state."

"I would like to once again commend and thank Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger, Speaker Thom Tillis, Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, Secretary of Revenue Lyons Gray and my Budget Director Art Pope for their hard work in getting this tax deal done. This historic tax reform package is a win-win for our state and the working families who live here,” concluded Governor McCrory.

This plan provides fiscally-responsible tax relief to all North Carolina taxpayers.  Income tax rates for all taxpayers will be lowered to a uniform rate of 5.8% in 2014. The corporate tax will be reduced to 6% in 2014, making North Carolina more attractive to job-creators.

North Carolina Tax Reform at a Glance:

· The plan is uniform for all North Carolinians across the board.
· It broadens the tax base, lowers income tax rates and reduces taxes for North Carolina working families.
· It is also fiscally responsible and ensures appropriate revenue for state government services.
Personal Income Tax:
· Reduces and simplifies the 3-tiered state personal income tax from the current maximum rate of 7.75% and minimum rate of 6% to 5.8% in 2014 and 5.75% in 2015.  
· Increases the standard deduction for all taxpayers, applied to the:  
                First $15,000 of income for those married filing jointly 
                First $12,000 of income for heads of household 
                First $7,500 of income for single filers; 
· ​Retains the state child tax credit and increases it for families making less than $40,000; 
· Offers a $20,000 combined maximum deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes; 
· Makes charitable contributions fully deductible; 
· Protects all Social Security income from state taxes. 
Corporate Income Tax:
· Reduces the corporate income tax from 6.9% to 6% in 2014 and then to 5% in 2015; a 29% rate reduction. 
· If the state meets revenue targets (i.e. if there is additional tax revenue growth due to a growing economy), the corporate income tax will drop to 4% in 2016 and 3% in 2017. 
Other Highlights:
· Caps the state gas tax;  
· Eliminates North Carolina’s death tax; 
· Preserves the sales tax refund for nonprofits.
What they are saying about tax reform: "Showing Lawmakers on Capitol Hill How it's Done," "Definitely Pro-Business"

A Fiscally Responsible Budget Signed
Governor Pat McCrory signed a $20.6 billion budget on Friday, July 26, that increases K-12 education funding, incorporates fiscally-responsible tax reform and lays the foundation for economic growth and job creation. The budget reflects a 2.5 percent spending increase compared to the previous fiscal year.

“This budget is about job creation,” Governor McCrory said.  “It maintains public investments in education, transportation and health care while at the same time encouraging job creation investments by the private sector. This is the formula that will unleash North Carolina’s economic potential.” 

In 2013-14, funding for K-12 education is increased to $ 7.86 billion, up from $7.44 billion in 2012-13. The increase funds more teachers for North Carolina schools. Teacher assistants for kindergarten and first grade are also provided. Pre-K seats are increased to accommodate 2,500 more children. Lottery funds will now also be used for digital learning improvements. 

Overall, 56 percent of the state budget will go to fund K-12, the 58 community colleges and 17 universities of the University of North Carolina System. That reflects a one percent increase from the previous budget.

The fiscally responsible tax reform package Governor McCrory signed into law is incorporated in this budget.  As a result, North Carolina working families will have more money in their paychecks during the next two years.

Governor McCrory’s budget provision to compensate victims of North Carolina’s Eugenics (Sterilization) Program was also included in this legislation. 

Other budget provisions include:

· Funds Center for Safer Schools which will  provide training, technical support, and serve as a clearinghouse of information on school safety to educators, law enforcement agencies and parents statewide.
· Allocates an additional $12.4 million to fund services for an additional 2,500 at-risk four year olds, to serve a total of 27,500 NC Pre-K children.
· Provides for opportunity scholarships in the second year of the budget
· Provides $12 million for digital learning efforts.
Health and Human Services 
· Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina: This budget allows the Department of Health and Human Services to move to the second phase of Medicaid reform: develop a waiver consistent with the governor’s vision to create a more sustainable system while improving care for North Carolina's most vulnerable citizens.
· Provides $1.5 billion in additional Medicaid funding over two years.
· Invests nearly $30 million over two years to help open the new Broughton Psychiatric Hospital.
· Keeps North Carolina's three regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers (ADATC) open to treat substance abuse and dependency.
· Provides for 10 additional inspectors to monitor North Carolina abortion clinics and handle complaints.
· Partnership for Prosperity authorized to consolidate, streamline and modernize North Carolina’s economic development efforts. 
· Creates a new Rural Development Authority to boost job creation in rural North Carolina.
· Creates a competitive grant program for non-profit entities.
· Allocates $60 million for Job Development Investment Grants (JDIG) and $14 million for Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund (JMAC) over two years. 
· Implements transportation reform through governor’s Strategic Mobility Fund. This reform will connect rural areas to the state’s economic centers. Population will also factor in more prominently into the location of future transportation infrastructure projects.  
· Upgrades Department of Motor Vehicle technology and funds extended, customer-friendly hours for offices that issue driver’s licenses.
· Caps the gasoline tax
Public Safety 
· Restore funding for Trooper positions - $2,505,713 to fund 69 vacant trooper positions. 
· Keep troopers on the road - The increasing cost of gasoline is taxing the State Highway Patrol's ability to keep troopers on the road and keep the public safe. $3,677,292 was appropriated to increase the gasoline budget to the prior year's actual expenditures.
· Expands funding for the juvenile justice community programs by $1.5 million in each year of the two-year budget. 
· Funds 175 new probation officer positions to protect North Carolina communities.  Probation and post-release supervision caseloads are rising as a result of the Justice Reinvestment Act
· Reinvests $4 million over the next two years in community-based substance abuse treatment services for moderate and high-risk offenders on community supervision. Provides increased treatment services in communities and helps address underlying drug dependency issues that often lead to criminal activity and prison.
· Funds 12 special Superior Court judges.
· Provides drug treatment funds through North Carolina’s courts.
Financial Responsibility 
· Fully funds state retirement system obligation and state health plan
· Invests $233 million in the first year in the rainy day fund bringing its balance to $650 million. An additional $37 million is invested in the budget’s second year. 
· Provides $163 million over two years for repair and renovation of state facilities.
· $1 million will go to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) to protect North Carolina’s military bases and increase their operational capability

Legislative Session Ends

Governor Pat McCrory signed 30 bills on July 23, including:

Breast Density Notification & Awareness (HB 467 - Reps. Faircloth, Adams, Harrison and Fulghum): ​The bill requires health care facilities that perform mammograms to inform patients about breast density findings.  It also corrects a statute involving the cancer registry and makes a correction to a statute involving the cancer registry.

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