Defenders of the N.C. legislature’s conservative agenda have recently touted reports claiming that implementing the goals of the Moral Monday protest movement would cost anywhere from $7 to $10 billion, a sum of money that would mean a drastic rise in taxes.
But that’s not the case, according to Alexandra Forter Sirota, the director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center.
Sirota analyzed the requests made by the Moral Monday protestors (much of which was to restore cuts made in recent years) and found that a more realistic price tag would be $1 billion, all of which would be covered if the tax cuts to large businesses and wealthy residents allowed last year were reversed. (Scroll down to see more about her analysis.)
“[I]t is clear that there is a fiscally responsible path forward for meeting the priorities of North Carolinians to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable citizens can access health insurance, our children can be ready and prepared to learn at school with quality childhood experiences, our workforce can be trained for the jobs of the future, working families can be supported as they struggle to get by on low wages and the human rights an ability to access a fair justice system for all North Carolinians can be protected,” Sirota wrote in a post last week.
(Note: The Budget and Tax Center and N.C. Policy Watch are both part of the N.C. Justice Center, a nonprofit group that advocates for low-income state residents.)
The Moral Monday protests over the Republican-led state legislature’s conservative agenda have attracted considerable attention from national media outlets over the last year. Led by N.C. NAACP state president Rev. William Barber, protesters have asked for changes to the state’s election laws, cuts to public education and health services and last year’s tax reform package that gave significant tax relief to large businesses and wealthy individuals. (Click here to read the 14-point agenda sent by Barber to legislative leaders)
The most recent reiteration of the high price of the Moral Monday agenda came yesterday, when Forbes published an editorial by Patrick Gleason, a staffer at Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist’s conservative, anti-tax think-tank, restating the $7 billion price tag figure. Gleason based his estimates on figures released by Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger’s office.
From Gleason’s column:
The non-partisan fiscal staff found that the Moral Monday agenda, if implemented, would require state lawmakers to raise taxes by $7 billion. For some context, such a tax hike would increase the North Carolina general fund by a whopping 35 percent. The Moral Monday plan would also necessitate a nearly ten-fold increase in the state corporate income tax, taking the rate from 6 to over 50 percent. Combined with the federal corporate income tax, the highest in the world, if Rev. Barber and crew had their druthers, companies would face a combined corporate tax rate of over 80 percent on profits earned in North Carolina. The likely result of such an onerous tax would be a mass evacuation of companies from Research Triangle Park, Charlotte, and elsewhere in the state.
Civitas, the conservative policy group funded largely with donations from McCrory budget director Art Pope’s family foundation, ran an article earlier this month claiming that the Moral Monday demands would cost $10 billion.
Sirota, the BTC director, found both the $7 billion and $10 billion figures were inflated and included massive expansions of programs that went far beyond what the Moral Monday protesters want.
She went on to calculate the actual costs of the Moral Monday agenda, and found that the changes to restore cuts would break even (and have a $106 million surplus) with what the state lost in revenue when it passed last year’s tax reform package.
From the BTC post: