Budget & Tax Center History

The Budget & Tax Center, North Carolina’s leading source for information on how fiscal and economic policies shape opportunities for working families, was established as part of the Justice Center in 1994. BTC analyzes pressing budget, tax, and economic decisions facing the state and local communities, with an eye to ensuring economic opportunity is expanded for all.

Over the years BTC has:

  • Documented the connection between the achievement gap and public school funding, particularly during Leandro v. North Carolina in 1999. BTC worked to identify and promote financing methods that would boost student achievement by ensuring resources were available to deliver quality education in every classroom to every child, regardless of wealth.
  • Opposed the establishment of the North Carolina Lottery on the basis that it would fail to provide adequate and stable revenue for education and would hit poor North Carolinians the hardest.
  • Supported repeal of the state tax on groceries that made it more difficult for poor and low- income North Carolinians to afford the basics and boost their local economies through spending.
  • Produced the first Living Income Standard, resulting in a Legislative Study Committee that led to a successful minimum wage campaign in the early 2000s. BTC continues to produce the Living Income Standard every two years.
  • Led a coalition of diverse partners in successfully achieving the enactment of a state Earned Income Tax Credit. Although the NC EITC was repealed in 2013, BTC continues its efforts to reinstate this policy for the estimated 1 million working families who struggle to make ends meet.
  • Advocated for and secured, in collaboration with a broad range of partners, a balanced approach to budget deficits caused by the Great Recession that include revenue as well as targeted spending cuts. A temporary tax package was allowed to expire before revenues recovered to replace the worst of cuts.
  • Scrupulously documented the recent damaging impact of shifting taxes off the wealthy and large profitable corporations and onto North Carolinians living in poverty.
  • Provided research and analysis of the labor market, economic expansion, and economic hardship to design a roadmap for the public and policymakers to build an economy where there is opportunity for all North Carolinians.

BTC has faced down a commitment to reducing the state’s tools to addressing poverty and, unabated, continues to research, lobby, engage, and inform North Carolinians and lawmakers. Thanks to the project’s team of researchers and long-term vision for what is possible in North Carolina to build an economy that works for all, the Budget & Tax Center is charting a path that seeks to raise the bar and invest to support children, families, and communities. In 2015-16, BTC continued its work to protect low-income families by:

  • Successfully fighting off efforts to enact TABOR, a constitutional amendment to our state constitution that the state Senate passed this year.
  • Lobbying against legislation to add other constitutional amendments that would have set arbitrary and low-income tax rate caps – the opposite of the public investment our state needs. This legislation ultimately failed.
  • Fighting for SNAP benefits (food assistance) that people need to build a productive future. BTC worked to improve legislation – which eventually stalled in the Senate – that would have made it more difficult for SNAP recipients to access this critical support.
  • Continued tracking economic data and policies that impact poverty and workforce development, encouraging proposals that support economic growth and statewide equity.
  • Utilizing the #StoptheCuts campaign to explain the importance of revenue in our state and the harmful impact of a lack of revenue on core public services

Annual Reports