As Governor Pat McCrory travels the state this week touting a billion dollar bond proposal for highway improvements and transit investments over the next 25 years, the Charlotte Observer reminds readers that the state is facing a serious revenue problem.
The editorial board doesn’t hold back in Thursday’s column entitled: Become Alabama in 12 easy steps.
Here’s an excerpt:
(News item: State revenues in North Carolina decreased by more than $200 million in July and August, the first two months of the fiscal year, when compared with the same months in 2013. That’s also $50 million short of state budget projections, the (Raleigh) News & Observer reports.)
1) Slash taxes, as N.C. Republicans did last year when they cut both the corporate tax rate and the personal income tax rate, with the most significant benefits going to wealthy North Carolinians.
2) Tell citizens this is tax “reform,” not simply tax cuts.
3) Explain, too, that this will help “job creators” grow our state’s economy, despite the fact that history shows there is little to no link between tax cuts and economic growth. The reason for this is that businesses add jobs when they believe doing so will help them grow and make more money. They do not need a tax break to want to make more money, and they won’t add jobs until it’s economically advantageous to do so, regardless of tax breaks.
4) Do not explain that last part to voters.
5) Cut spending, as N.C. lawmakers have had to do to offset the hundreds of millions in lost tax revenue. These cuts can be made in a number of ways, such as trimming health and welfare benefits for poor people, or cutting unemployment benefits for those without a job.
6) Subtly blame these poor and unemployed people for needing government “handouts.”
7) Bonus Tip: One especially fertile target for spending is education. Freeze higher education pay and cut education budgets, despite increases in enrollment. Cut the money that’s spent per student in classrooms and raise teacher pay only after it’s politically destructive to ignore it. Then cut critical education needs like teacher assistants to help pay for those salaries, and fund the rest of the permanent pay increase with one-time only sources of state revenue.
8) Hope no one notices that last thing.
9) Wave off signs of trouble, as new state budget director Lee Roberts did this week when asked about the state’s alarming two-month revenue shortfall. Roberts said it was too early to worry, despite the N.C. Budget and Tax Center estimating that revenue will be down $300 million in 2015 and at least a half-billion dollars next year, when new tax cuts go into effect.
Read the full editorial online at The Charlotte Observer.