Foundation

North Carolina Senate Candidate Agenda Analysis: Deborah Ross

by Demian Brady, Andrew Wilford / /

Economy, Transportation and Infrastructure

Equal Pay: “Deborah Ross’s ‘Putting People First’ Economic Plan … Equal pay for equal work.” (source)

Cost per year: $3 million ($15 million over five years)

Notes: The Paycheck Fairness Act, introduced as H.R. 1619 and S. 862, would enhance regulations pertaining to equal pay. The text of the bill authorizes $15 million for compliance training, a grant program for negotiation skills training for girls and women, and research, education and outreach. NTUF assumes the outlays would occur over five years.

Infrastructure Investment: “Deborah is committed to rebuilding our state and country’s crumbling infrastructure. … In the U.S. Senate, Deborah will work to make sure we bring our infrastructure into the 21st century … .” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Ross has publicly declared the need to expand transportation, water, energy, and broadband infrastructure, but it is unclear what level of funding she would support. The federal government spent $89.5 billion on transportation and $20.7 billion on community and regional development in FY 2015.

Minimum Wage: “[W]e need to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $12 an hour.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Related legislation was introduced during the 113th Congress in the form of S. 2223, the Minimum Wage Fairness Act. That bill would have gradually increased the federal minimum wage to $10.10 and indexed it to inflation in years thereafter. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that the bill would not significantly impact federal outlays. It is unclear if this proposal would be scored similarly. In a related 2014 report, CBO noted that a minimum wage increase to $10.10 would reduce total employment by about 500,000 workers across the country. It is unclear whether this would impact outlays for unemployment benefits or other welfare programs.

Paid Leave - Earned Leave:  “[W]e need to encourage efforts that allow all workers the opportunity to earn paid sick days” (source)

          Cost per Year: $3 million ($17 million over five years)

Notes: Related legislation was introduced in Congress as H.R. 932 and S. 497, the Healthy Families Act. The proposal would require certain employers to permit their employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. It would also require that the Commissioner of Labor Statistics and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on the use of paid leave. In 2007, CBO estimated that the reporting requirements would increase outlays by $17 million over five years.

Paid Leave - National Benefit Program: “[W]e need to move towards universal paid family leave … .” (source)

 Cost per Year: $2.368 billion ($11.842 billion over five years)

Notes: Related legislation was introduced as  S. 786, the Family and Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, which would increase payroll taxes 0.2 percent to finance a national benefit program. Adding this new payroll tax to the Office of Management and Budget’s estimates of total social insurance program receipts for years 2017-2021 yields a revenue estimate of $11.8 billion. NTUF assumes that the program’s costs align with the new tax receipts.

 

Education, Science and Research

After-school Programs: “ … [W]e need to … expand after-school programs … .” (source)

          Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The Afterschool Alliance lists nine existing federal programs that provide grants to state and local governments to support after-school programs. It is unclear what level of funding Ross would support to expand these programs.

Child Care: “[W]e need to boost tax relief for families paying for childcare through the [T]ax [C]ode … .” (source)

          Cost per Year:  $827 million ($4.113 billion over five years)

Notes: President Obama’s FY 2017 budget includes a related proposal for a “refundable” child care tax credit. Refundable credits increase spending because they can be claimed by individuals regardless of their income tax liability. The budget estimated that this provision would increase outlays by $4.113 billion over five years.

Child Care Providers Training: “ … [W] need to … boost training for child care providers … .” (source)

          Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The federal government currently provides training to child care providers indirectly through the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, which provides funding for state and local governments to create training and development programs. In the FY 2015 the CCDBG provided $2.313 billion in block grants. NTUF assumes It is unclear what level of funding Ross would support.

Early Learning and Pre-school: “Deborah believes that in order to strengthen our economy every child needs access to a high-quality public education. Deborah believes... [in] expanding early learning and pre-school access.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear what additional level of funding Ross would support to expand early learning programs. The 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029) provided $635 million for Early Head Start for FY 2016. The Obama Administration’s FY 2017 budget included a proposal to establish a Preschool for All program for four-year olds with an estimated cost of $66.042 billion over ten years. It is unclear if Ross would support this proposal.

K-12 Education: “Deborah believes... [in] investments in K-12 education.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: In FY 2016, the Department of Education spent $35.9 billion on grants to the states to support elementary and secondary school programs. It is unclear what level of “investments” Ross would support.

Pell Grants: “Deborah is committed to increasing funding for Pell Grants … .” (source)

           Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: In FY 2016, the federal government spent $28.358 billion on Pell Grants. It is unclear what level of increases Ross would support.

State Support for Working Parents: “ … [W]e need to ... ensure states have the resources they need to meet the needs of all children and working parents.” (source)

           Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: The federal government has a number of services that provide information and grants to states to help children and working parents. It is unclear which of these programs Ross would expand.

Student Loans - Income-based Repayment: “Deborah is committed to … expanding income-based student loan repayment options for those with unmanageable debt.” (source)

           Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: Related legislation has been introduced as S. 85, the Repay Act, to establish a simplified income-based repayment plan for federal student loans. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a cosponsor of the bill, says the “legislation is estimated to save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade,” however an official cost estimate is unavailable.

Student Loans - Refinancing: “ … [W]e need to allow students to refinance their student loans … .” (source)

Cost per year: $19.333 billion ($58 billion over 3 years)

Notes: Related legislation was introduced in the 113th Congress as S. 2432, the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. CBO estimated the proposal would increase outlays by $58 billion cost over three years.

Universal Tuition-Free Community College: “Deborah believes that in order to strengthen our economy every child needs access to a high-quality public education. … This culminates in the chance for all students to be able to attend a community college or four-year college. … Deborah is committed to providing debt-free community college for students who work hard and make good grades … .”  (source)

Cost per year: $1.8 billion ($9 billion over five years)

Notes: President Obama’s FY 2017 budget included a related proposal, known as “America’s College Promise,” to allow students to attend community college tuition-free. Students would qualify for the program if they have good grades and behavior. The proposal would cost $9 billion over the first five years and $61 billion over ten years.

 

Energy and the Environment[3] 

Renewable Energy Investments: “Deborah knows that we need to slow the harmful effects of climate change. The best ways to do this are to invest in renewable energy and clean technology.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear whether Ross would establish or expand tax credits to “invest in renewable energy and clean technology,” or whether she would increase federal spending.

 

Government Reform[4] 

Tax Reform: “[W]e need to reform our tax code so that the average middle-class family can keep $1,000 or more of what they earn every year.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: Ross supports expanding “refundable” tax credits for child care (scored above). It is unclear whether her tax reform proposal would include additional refundable credits.

 

Health Care[5] 

Affordable Care Act: “In the U.S. Senate, Deborah will continue to focus on finding bipartisan solutions to improve the Affordable Care Act and the health care of all Americans.” (source)

            Cost per Year: Indeterminate

            Note: It is unclear what “solutions” Ross would support.

Medicaid Expansion: “[Deborah Ross] will work to expand Medicaid in North Carolina … .” (source)

   Cost per Year: $2.9 billion ($14.5 billion over five years)

Notes: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) required states to expand eligibility for Medicaid enrollment with the federal government. After a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2012 striking down the federal mandate, states had the option on whether or not to increase their programs. Currently, only 21 states have taken action to increase their health care programs. Expansion states received a 100 percent federal matching rate for newly eligible Medicaid enrollees, though over time, the federal match will decline. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecasts that the cost of the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will total $969 billion from FY 2017 through  FY 2026.

NTUF assumes that Ross would also promote Medicaid expansion to the other states that did not opt-in. President Obama’s FY 2017 budget includes a related proposal to further expand Medicaid:

As of January 2016, 30 states and the District of Columbia have elected to expand Medicaid, and more states are actively discussing expansion (Louisiana will make the 31st state). Through November 2015, an additional 14.1 million individuals have gained Medicaid or CHIP coverage, many of whom would not have been eligible absent Medicaid expansion.

The Budget includes a proposal ... which provides all states, regardless of when they choose to expand Medicaid, the same federal share as states that expanded right away by providing 3 years of full Federal funding for newly eligible adults.

The Administration estimates this would increase outlays by $2.61 billion from FY 2017 through FY 2023. The CBO’s analysis of the President’s budget assumes a higher Medicaid enrollment rate over a longer period of time under this policy proposal, costing $14.5 billion over five years, and $30.7 billion over ten years. Given the level of outlays projected for Medicaid under the ACA’s current expansion, NTUF assumes that the cost in CBO’s estimate is more likely to result  from this proposed expansion than the Administration’s estimate.

Medicare - Program Integrity: “Investing in oversight, personnel, and technology will be critical to ensuring costly Medicare dollars are properly spent.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: GAO estimates that Medicare made approximately $36 billion worth of improper payments in FY 2013. While some of this money could be recouped over the long-term, it would require increased spending up front. A cost estimate is indeterminate.

Prescription Drugs: “ We can lower spending on prescription drugs by clearing the [Food and Drug Administration] backlog for generics, bringing lower cost drugs to the market, and giving consumers the choices they deserve.” (source)

            Cost per Year: Indeterminate

            Notes: A cost estimate is indeterminate.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform: “[There should be a tough, fair and earned path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants already living, working and raising families here. That is why I support the sensible, bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the U.S. Senate with 68 votes more than two years ago. It would have required undocumented immigrants pay a penalty, pass a background check, learn English and pay taxes” (source)

Cost per year: $20.2 billion ($101 billion over 5 years)

Notes: During the 113th Congress, the Senate passed S. 744, which would have overhauled the federal immigration system by providing a path to legal status for many current illegal aliens, and authorizing additional funding for border security measures. A CBO estimate of the bill as passed by the Senate indicated it would increase mandatory spending by $89 billion over the first five years and discretionary spending by $12 billion in that same time. NTUF assumes that Ross would support similar legislation.

 

National Defense and Foreign Affairs[6] 

Cyber-Warfare: “We must increase the scope and scale of these cyber-attacks against terrorists.” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: It is unclear how much Ross would like to increase funding for cyber-warfare.

Intelligence: “Strengthen our intelligence capabilities …  These analysts are on the front lines of identifying and disrupting terrorist plots, and helping us learn about the inner workings of ISIS.  They should have the resources they need and certainty that outside parties won’t politicize or sabotage their operations.” (source)

            Cost per Year: Indeterminate

            Notes: Intelligence funding is classified, and it is unclear what level of strength Ross would support.

Islamic State - Increase Airstrikes: “The United States must… [i]ncrease airstrikes.” (source)

Cost per year: $6.8 billion (first-year cost)

Notes: A 2014 study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments determined that higher-intensity air operations in the Middle East could cost up to $6.8 billion per year.

Islamic State - Strengthen Allies on the Ground: “Strengthen our allies on the ground: Iraqis and Syrian moderates must be on the front lines to fight for their countries and retake territory from ISIS. To ensure that these allies have the resources they need to succeed, we must provide arms and equipment to vetted forces on the ground, including the Iraqi military, the Iraqi Kurds, and Southern Front in Syria.  To grow their ranks, we must prevent Iraq from devolving into sectarian conflict and pursue a political transition in Syria so that they can unite behind defeating ISIS. ” (source)

Cost per year: Indeterminate

Notes: The Obama Administration has already spent $500 million on aid to Syrian rebels and the State Department indicated to the Huffington Post in June (2016) that the U.S. has indirectly sent at least $365 million in military support to Iraqi Kurdistan. It is unclear how much more Ross would like to spend.

 

Veterans[7] 

Transition Benefits: “In the U.S. Senate, [Deborah Ross] will work to improve our [Department of Veterans Affairs] system, hold institutions that prey on veterans and their families accountable, and expand benefits to help our service members as they transition back into the civilian workforce.” (source)

           Cost per Year: Indeterminate

Notes: In FY 2016, the budget authorized a total of $14.314 billion for Veterans’ Readjustment Benefits that includes education, vocational rehabilitation, and employment benefits. It is unclear what level of funding Ross would support.


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