Good for state education czar Bill Harrison, who said Tuesday that he wants lawmakers to pass the increases in the cigarette and alcohol taxes that Governor Beverly Perdue recommended and to temporarily raise the state sales tax, all to protect public schools from the devastating cuts called for in the latest version of the House budget.
Raising the regressive sales tax is not the best way to raise revenue, but at least Harrison is talking publicly about tax increases as part of the way to address next year’s $4.6 billion shortfall.
Perdue’s spokesperson told the N&O that Harrison’s proposals “are not something the governor is pushing.” Perdue did have the good sense to recommend $600 million in tax increases as part of her budget proposal and that was before the shortfall grew by $2 billion.
It would be nice to know what Perdue thinks lawmakers should do now that the shortfall is so much larger.
Just as importantly, let’s hope that Harrison’s public call for new taxes wakes up other key state leaders like UNC President Erskine Bowles and Community College President Scott Ralls. Both have spoken passionately about the damage the proposed House budget would do to their institutions, but neither has yet called for new revenue to prevent it.