Bill Brawley is already making waves in North Carolina politics despite having been elected just a couple of weeks ago. On Sunday, he was quoted by a Charlotte Observer reporter in an article called “Lean Times: The New Normal.”
“We only have so much money,” he says. “We have to prioritize the spending. If that means some things that had been funded aren’t, it’s unfortunate. But it’s not something over which we have control.”
He’s then re-quoted by Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch, a left-leaning public policy organization. Fitzsimon argues that the Republican mission is inherently anti-government and that philosophy will lead to heavy cuts in services that will directly hurt people, especially those on the lower socioeconomic rung of the ladder. His solution to the $3 billion+ budget shortfall is to find additional revenue—in other words, raise certain taxes including cigarette, alcohol, and add a new tax on services. Said Fitzsimon:
And funding for all of those things is well under the control of Brawley and his fellow Republicans. The new reality they want us to accept is not reality at all, it is anti-government ideology from the right-wing think tanks whose misinformation framed the talking points for Republicans candidates during the campaign and who are now trying to convince us that the problem is simply that we have more government than we can afford.
He goes on to claim that the Republicans in this state are beholden to special interests. Of course, politicians’ allegiance to special interest groups has long been a problem in North Carolina. It was the Democrats, not the Republicans, for the past 100 years that have been in the pockets of groups with motives that were beneficial to them, and not the state as a whole. It was the reason former speaker of the house and Matthews resident Jim Black was making deals in the bathrooms of restaurants.
There may need to be some small additional revenue to help balance next year’s budget. But Fitzsimon is wrong about government’s size: We do have more government than we can afford—hence a huge budget shortfall. Finding strategic cuts in education and health and human services is the first step in shoring up gaps in the budget. Streamlining billion dollar programs is not anti-government, it’s anti waste.