Some suggest allocating budget surplus to education instead of tax refunds

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN/AP) – A Republican proposal to give millions of North Carolina taxpayers refunds from a larger-than-anticipated revenue surplus is advancing in the state Senate.

The Senate Finance Committee voted on Thursday for the measure to send $663 million through checks of up to $125 or $250. Amounts would depend on the taxpayer’s filing status and what they owed during 2018.

Senate leader Phil Berger told committee members returning money to taxpayers is one good option when more money than necessary is collected for state government. Democratic Sen. Floyd McKissick of Durham said legislators should look instead at using the excess on important needs like school construction. But Berger says the Republican budget vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper contains such funds.

The refund measure is expected on the Senate floor next week.

Cooper criticized the proposal Thursday when asked about it by CBS 17.

“This sounds more like a gimmick to me. It’s gonna cost millions of dollars to even do this,” said Cooper. “Truth be known, the General Assembly has been shortchanging public education for years now, and we have some catching up to do.”

The bill to authorize the refunds includes about $5.5 million to cover the costs of sending out the checks.

Beatriz Sink, of Raleigh, said she supports the idea and plans to save the money to visit her family in Colombia.

“I don’t want to spend it because I like to travel, and I’m saving up to go home,” she said.

Kimberly Jones said she also likes the idea of getting a refund, but she also agrees with Cooper.

“I would like for some of the money to go back to the teachers. They’re definitely underpaid, and they are overworked. They have a lot to deal with,” Jones said as she shopped for back-to-school supplies at the Teach Me Store in Raleigh.

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