Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Government spending per person drops

This just in from the North Carolina Justice Center: North Carolina government spending per person has fallen to its lowest rate in 13 years, a report the center released today finds. Without the tax increases adopted this year, state appropriations per person would have dropped even further, to the lowest level since fiscal year 1992-93.

"Merely scaling back the increase in spending of the past few years would not have been sufficient to cover the budget shortfall," the report from the North Carolina Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center concludes.

The $4.6 billion state budget shortfall - 22 percent of the state's General Fund for fiscal year 2009-10 - forced state lawmakers to make significant service cuts, such as deep cuts to mental health services and cuts in funding to local school districts.

Rather than allowing the quality of public services to retreat to such an extent, lawmakers opted to take a balanced approach, filling the budget gap with spending cuts, federal assistance and $1 billion in higher taxes.

The study, "Down in the Valley: General Fund Appropriations Per Person Lowest in 13 Years," examined inflation-adjusted General Fund appropriations - the primary portion of the state budget that is funded by income and sales taxes, which pays for education, health and human services, justice, public safety and other public needs - over the past several decades.

The report is available online at