The Ant and the Grasshopper
One summer day, a grasshopper was fiddling around on the grounds of the old state capitol building when he spied a column of red ants marching by. “What are you ants doing?” the grasshopper asked them.
“We are carrying corn back to our nest on Jones Street,” answered first ant, who was the speaker of the ants.
“Why are you carrying corn back to your nest on Jones Street?” asked the grasshopper.
“We are saving it for a rainy day,” answered the speaker of the ants.
“Silly ants!” said the grasshopper.“You should not waste your time working so hard on such a lovely summer day! And besides,” the grasshopper continued, “Look around you. There is plenty for everyone to eat! Why would you build up the rainy day fund in excess of what’s necessary? You need to share it and not let it just be sitting there.”
It went on like this over and over again as the long days of summer turned to autumn. And then, all of a sudden, winter came.
With all apologies to Aesop, if you don’t know the rest of the story, you can imagine how it ends.
Like the ants, the General Assembly made sure that North Carolina was well-prepared to deal with the economic disaster caused by the pandemic.
How did they do it? When conservatives took control of the state legislature, they supercharged a stagnating economy by lowering state income taxes (by over $16 billion since 2011) and cutting costly red tape for businesses.
And prudent budgeting in Raleigh over the last decade not only produced record revenues, but it allowed the legislature to eliminate a $2.5 billion structural deficit, pay off a $2.7 billion debt to the federal government, and accumulate billions in savings. At the pandemic’s onset in March, the state’s “rainy day” fund stood at nearly $3 billion.
This led the U.S. News and World Report to rank North Carolina fourth in the nation last year for fiscal stability.
So, unlike the vast majority of other states, we were financially prepared when the pandemic hit: the legislature acted swiftly to pass House Bill 1043, which provides nearly $1.6 billion in direct relief and aid for the people of North Carolina.
And we could afford to pay for it all because our conservative legislature has been fiscally responsible with our tax dollars.
And that’s the moral of this story.