A Preview of What's in Store for Nonprofits During the 2012 Short Session

Our legislators return to Raleigh today to start their 2012 short session. They’ll focus on three things: 

  1. Adjusting next year’s state budget;
  2. Voting on a few substantive changes to policies;  and
  3. Getting out of Raleigh as quickly as possible.  

So what should nonprofits expect during the short session?

 

There probably won’t be much good news on the budget. Although tax collections were about $232 million higher than expected this year, most of that windfall will go to preserving teacher jobs and paying for increased Medicaid costs. Translation: nonprofits that experienced cuts in their state grants and contracts last year shouldn’t expect to get funding back this time around. It’s possible the budget will include further cuts to nonprofits if legislators stick to their promise not to increase revenue.  

 

Last Thursday, Governor Perdue released her budget adjustment proposal. It restored funding to some nonprofits and included a ¾ of a penny increase in the sales tax instead of deeper cuts to nonprofits and other public investments. Legislators have essentially said her plan is dead upon arrival.

 

There is one bright spot -- the budget will likely be finalized before the state’s new fiscal year starts July 1. The House should introduce a budget in the next few days and vote on it this month, and the Senate will probably follow suit quickly.

 

This quick turnaround means that many budget decisions have already been made without input from nonprofits.  On the flip side, it also means state agencies should have enough information about their finances to pay nonprofits on time this year. Prompt payments would be a welcome change for the 41% of nonprofits that were paid late by state agencies last year!

What else should your nonprofit expect during the short session? If fracking, the state gas tax, municipal annexations, or merit pay for public school teachers are on your radar screen, you should probably clear time on your calendar for visits to Jones Street.

 

Look for debates on four bills that affect the nonprofit sector:

  1. Last year, the House overwhelmingly approved legislation (H.B. 886) that would make it a little easier for North Carolina small businesses to make charitable contributions. The Center proposed and drafted this bill and has advocated strongly for it. We think it’s a step in the right direction.
  2. In 2011, the Governor vetoed a bill (H.B. 351) that would have required North Carolinians to show photo IDs before voting. Many nonprofits tell us that this would make it tougher for the people they serve – seniors, people with disabilities, low-income families, and college students – to vote. The House wasn’t able to override the veto last year, but they’ll almost certainly try to have voter ID requirements in place for November’s election.
  3. The House is set to take up a bill (S.26) to provide legal protection to for-profit “benefit corporations” that operate partly for public purposes, including giving generously to nonprofits. The Senate passed this 50-0 last year.
  4. The state earned income tax credit expires at the end of 2012. It looks like legislators will extend it for another year and revisit it (and other nonprofit issues) if they take up tax reform in 2013.

 

Here are three things every nonprofit should do right now:

  1. Tell your state legislators why investment in nonprofits is a great bargain for North Carolina taxpayers!
  2. Register today for the 2012 Public Policy Forum for North Carolina's Nonprofit Sector on May 29 to get the tools you need to advocate effectively. 
  3. Join us for NC Nonprofits Day on May 30 to make your voice - and our sector's voice - heard at the General Assembly.  Remember, there’s power in numbers.

Comments

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <p> <br> <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><h1><h2><h3><h4><h5> <div> <blockquote> <address>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options

Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.