Month: June 2013

Good luck trying to figure out where Governor Pat McCrory stands in the back room negotiations about a tax cut plan. The story in the News & Observer this morning offers a very confusing picture.  First, there’s this.

The document that State Budget Director Art Pope recently sent to select House lawmakers outlines a concept that would gradually reduce state income taxes and expand the sales tax to dozens of additional services, such as car repairs and appliance installations.

Seems pretty clear. Pope, in his official capacity as State Budget Director and on behalf of Governor McCrory, is offering a compromise to House and Senate leaders.

Maybe not. This is from the same story.

McCrory reviewed the alternative proposal before it was shared with lawmakers, but his office was careful to say he did not endorse it.

Say what?

The folks at NC Capitol ask the pertinent question, “Is McCyory’s tax vision a mirage?”

So we apparently have a tax compromise plan being circulated by McCrory’s top budget officer who denies that it is really a plan and McCrory hasn’t endorsed it anyway.

That certainly clears things up.

 

 

For more than a century, North Carolinians have pooled their resources to invest in great achievements, including a statewide K-12 system, the oldest public university system in the country, transportation infrastructure and a lot more. Taxes matter for the economy and society that we all enjoy so how the state government raises the billions of dollars that fuel the state budget is very important.

And, the ability of the state tax system to grow with the economy and keep up with the cost of public services and the changing needs of the population is critical. Yet, this continues to be a missing part of the debate over the impact of tax plans under consideration

Senate and House leadership say that their plans merely slow the rate of state spending to around 3 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively, compared to the long-run average of 4.8 percent. A 1.5 percentage point drop and a .3 percentage point drop in the revenue growth rate sound innocuous at first glance, but further analysis shows just how devastating this would be. Read More

Here’s more reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday to strike down a key provision of the Voting Right’s Act:

FFELE“I am deeply disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision today… Today’s decision invalidating one of its core provisions upsets decades of well-established practices that help make sure voting is fair, especially in places where voting discrimination has been historically prevalent.”
- President Barack Obama

“The activist majority on the Supreme Court has taken the unprecedented step of taking over a uniquely legislative function in disregard of the extensive work of the legislative branch and substituting their own judgment for that of elected representatives.  The decision overturning Section 4 of the VRA leaves millions of Americans vulnerable to discrimination in the most fundamental right of citizenship—the right to vote.  I am deeply disappointed by the result they have reached and its impact on minority voters as well as the precedent they have set for disregarding the factual and political judgment of elected Members of Congress.”
-Congressman Mel Watt, 12th District of North Carolina

“It’s time to bring the Section 5 rulings into this century, not the last century.”
- N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca, who adds a full voter ID bill will emerge from a Senate committee next week Read More

As we wrote yesterday, the implementation of HB4 – the radical restructuring of North Carolina’s unemployment insurance system – is just around the corner. Next Monday, on July 1st, North Carolina will set itself apart. Our state will have the dubious distinction of being the ONLY state in the nation to:

  • Reject participation in the 100% federally-funded emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) program. Due to the implementation date of July 1, North Carolina breaks a non-reduction rule prohibiting states from making benefit cuts while participating in the federal EUC program. As a result of the decision to implement changes in July 3013 instead of January 2014, 70,000 jobless workers in North Carolina will abruptly lose benefits next week. No other state has rejected federal participation in order to pursue benefit cuts.
  • Have a sliding scale for the minimum number of weeks available. Read More

Phil BergerIt’s funny how a little water under the bridge and a change of jobs can alter one’s perspective on public events.

This is from a 2009 News & Observer “Under the Dome” story about then-Senate Minority Leader (and current Senate President Pro Tem) Phil Berger slamming budget negotiations between House and Senate leaders — mind you, this was during a period of profound budget crisis in which the Great Recession was pummeling the state’s economy and tax revenues:

“Senate Republican leader Sen. Phil Berger said it’s another example of Democrats’ incompetence that the state doesn’t have a budget 14 days into the fiscal year.

‘For the average person, when they have a deadline and they need to get something done, they are held accountable,’ said Berger, an Eden Republican, at the weekly Republican news conference.”

Now flash forward to 2013. This is from a “Dome” story posted this morning: Read More