In addition to our private reasons for expressing gratitude this Thanksgiving, we have public reasons to celebrate and give thanks as citizens of Duplin County and the State of North Carolina.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Republican majorities in the General Assembly for the first time in a long time North Carolina will have a certified State Budget. For the last 10 years the Republican-led budget writers have practiced sound fiscal policies which have increased revenue while lowering taxes for our hard working families across this state.
Those policies have resulted in an unprecedented ability for the General Assembly to fund needed projects across our state while at the same time continuing to follow sound policies of fiscal restraint that do not raise taxes.
Unlike times past under Democrat control, Duplin County is not left out this time. To the contrary, Duplin County does quite well as a result of the current budget. Consider these highlights from the biennial budget summary.
This budget adds an additional $2.3 billion to our savings reserve giving us an anticipated balance of $4.25 billion in 2023 which is unprecedented in our state history.
It also provides compensation increases of 5% for most state employees over the biennium; allots $100 million in public school funding for low-wealth counties to increase pay for teachers and instructional personnel in those counties; implements a new $13/hour minimum wage in 2021-22 and $15/hour in 2022-23 for local employees of public schools and community colleges; provides a bonus of $1,000 for all state employees and local education employees; fully funds the NC State Health Plan.
And very importantly reduces the personal income tax rate from 5.25% to 3.99% over six years and totally phases out the corporate income tax over six years.
In addition to those highlights, several Duplin County projects will receive direct grants important to our local government services including; $21,300,000 for jail expansion and construction; $7,000,000 for Duplin Emergency Management Center; $4,000,000 North Carolina Forestry Service Region One Headquarters construction adjacent to the airport; $2,000,000 for Duplin County Services for the Aged; $6,000,000 for the town of Wallace to expand water and sewer services to important agriculture industries; $1,000,000 for Duplin County Northeast Cape Fear River Bank restorations; and $500,000 for the Duplin County Events Center for parking lot construction; $62,500 for the Duplin County Veterans Museum and memorial; and $320,000 for the Town of Faison sewer improvement.
Those projects along with a few others total almost $43 million coming to Duplin County that will help maintain and improve the well-being of all our citizens.
Also, there is $1 billion in new federal funding to the state’s broadband expansion initiatives to help all areas of our state have better access to worldwide business and educational opportunities.
Please note the first item I mentioned above — the Republican majority is adding $2.3 billion to our savings reserve so that if we experience tougher times we will be better prepared to weather the storm.
Perhaps a word of caution is in order. There is — especially on the federal level — the portent of very stormy weather that can and may destroy the success of capitalism. Some Democrats in control in Washington do not think or behave like American Patriots should think and act.
They want America to apologize for the beginning of our great nation. They want race to divide us. They want socialism and government controls rather than individual freedom and liberty.
We, the people should be ever mindful that elections — especially the next one — can destroy or heal us.