NC Budget and Tax Center

Senate proposal is another tax cut for the wealthy and profitable corporations

Senate leaders announced they will continue on the path to ruin for North Carolina by pushing forward another series of income tax rate cuts this year that will primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations.

The proposal unveiled this morning will do nothing to boost the wages of working people nor will it help connect rural communities to opportunity, despite Senators’ claims.

Instead, by lowering the income tax rates on corporate profits and income, the proposal continues to lock in the already significant breaks to the wealthy and profitable corporations.  To date, North Carolina’s millionaires have received an average tax break of $15,000 since 2013 while the state’s poorest households are carrying a heavier tax load.

North Carolina’s profitable corporations contribute the lowest amount in the country to ensuring that the infrastructure, workforce development and education that they benefit from is effective and efficient.  Under this proposal, the state will continue to ask little of large multi-state corporations and underfund the foundations of a strong economy for our state.

The proposed changes to the standard deduction and child tax credit are ineffective to offset the already greater share of income paid in state and local taxes by the lowest income taxpayers in North Carolina. And the resulting pressure on local governments to raise property taxes and on future state lawmakers to raise sales tax to make up the losses from these tax breaks for the wealthy will make it difficult to invest in opportunity for all.

It is important for all North Carolinians to see the full plan of the North Carolina Senate. We must ask what will be eliminated from our communities to pay for these tax breaks.  We must ask who they will ask to pay more.

The proposal passed earlier this week to lock in a low and arbitrary income tax rate that primarily benefits the wealthy is part of the effort to eliminate the income tax entirely and push the tax load onto middle- and low-income taxpayers.  Not only is this not a pathway to prosperity, this is another step backward for North Carolina.

News, Voting

Voters falsely accused of fraud share stories, ask State Board of Elections for change

North Carolinians in 16 counties who were falsely accused of voter fraud last year by former Gov. Pat McCrory’s Campaign have asked the State Board of Elections to change its protest process.

When McCrory was losing the election last year, GOP lawyers recruited residents to file election protests against individuals accused of voting with a felony, voting in a deceased person’s name or voting in multiple states.

At least 85 voters were falsely accused and four are currently involved in a defamation lawsuit against the people who signed their protests.

Other voters who were falsely accused shared their stories with the Elections Board in a telephone conference Monday that was facilitated by the voting rights organization, Democracy North Carolina.

“I was literally shocked,” Betty B. Adams told Kim Strach, executive director of the Elections Board. “I was upset for several days.”

Joseph Golden described to Strach his surprise and frustration after seeing his name appear in Brunswick County newspapers and after reading someone’s social media post, “There’s a cheater amongst us.”

Anne Hughes of Moore County told Strach that she was “just incredulous” when she learned that she and her husband had been accused of voting in two states.

“I was shocked and horrified and furious to learn our name was on a list with people who were alleged to have broken a federal law,” she said.

Aysha Nasir of Orange County added, “You obey the law, you do all the stuff you’re supposed to, and then some person just randomly, without any burden of proof, can accuse you of breaking the law.”

Those voters and others presented Strach with a letter calling on the Elections Board to “(1) change the form for filing a protest complaint so it requires a presentation of evidence to support an allegation; and (2) create a process to hold accountable anyone who files a frivolous or negligent complaint or a pattern of repeated false complaints.”

You can read the full letter here.

You can listen part of the conference call where voters shared their shock and outrage over being falsely accused of voter fraud here.

Strach told the group that she appreciated hearing their statements, calling them “very powerful.” She said her staff was already working on possible revisions for the protest form and process, and she anticipated taking several recommendations to the five-member State Board of Elections at its next meeting.

One change she mentioned would require the protester to swear under penalty of perjury that the information in the form is true.

Bob Hall with Democracy NC said the organization is conducting a county-by-county investigation of the protests and their impact on innocent voters.

“Unfortunately, North Carolina is ground zero for witnessing the damage inflicted on honest voters and the elections system by inflated or bogus claims of voter fraud,” Hall said. “The testimony of the voters shows the real pain and harm caused by these irresponsible claims. Their stories also show that anybody can suddenly find themselves charged with a crime when voter fraud accusations are used as a political weapon.”

Commentary, HB2

Crucial Conversation luncheon: HB2 on its one-year anniversary

NC Policy Watch presents a special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

An expert panel discusses the state of North Carolina’s infamous discrimination law on its one-year anniversary

Click here to register

Amazingly, Thursday, March 23 marks the one-year anniversary of HB2 – the LGBTQ discrimination law that will forever be known by the name it received during a special one-day kangaroo session of the General Assembly.

When it passed, it seemed almost unbelievable that supposedly responsible state officials would take such harmful and poorly thought out ideas from the “back of the envelope” to state law in less than 12 hours. A year later, it seems downright surreal. Tragically, however, that’s what really happened and North Carolinians of all stripes have been paying the price ever since as the state has become a national and international pariah.

Today, despite the best efforts of the state’s new Governor, Roy Cooper, the law remains on the books and the damage to the state continues. So what now? Where do things stand? What’s next? When will this stain finally be removed?

Join us Thursday March 23 at 12:00 p.m. as we explore these questions and others with an expert panels that will include Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina, Ames Simmons, Lobbyist and Director of Transgender Policy at Equality NC and Rick Glazier, Executive Director of the North Carolina Justice Center.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this important leader on this controversial matter.

When: Thursday March 23, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in downtown Raleigh.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

News

N.C. Sen. Joel Ford: Tweets, apologies and LGBT criticism

N.C. Sen. Joel Ford (D-Charlotte)

On Tuesday N.C. Sen Joel Ford (D-Charlotte) had a strange, tense exchange with LGBT activists who criticized his record on LGBT issues.

He responded to the activists with a GIF of a dog defecating in the snow. This led Matt Comer, a Charlotte-based LGBT activist, to ask if that was appropriate behavior for a state senator.

Ford’s tweet led to a public backlash and a scolding from the editorial board of the Charlotte Observer.

Ford ultimately deleted the tweet and issued an apology – including a personal call to Comer, with whom he agreed to have coffee to discuss his record and LGBT issues.

Dakota Cary, Ford’s campaign manager, even told Charlotte NPR station WFAE that his campaign is going to create a series of pre-approved GIFs for Ford to use, because he prefers to tweet GIFs at those questioning and criticizing him rather than give individual responses.

Cary said Ford selected the GIF of the defecating dog from the “awkward” section of his “GIF keyboard.”

“He used that one,” Cary explained, “because he thinks that when people like that come for him on Twitter… it’s easier than sitting down and typing out the same response each time.”

Asked whether Ford regretted the move and would want a do-over, Cary said yes. “None of the GIFs that we’ve been using have been well received, and so I think there’s a disconnect between trying to use GIFs as a way to communicate with people and what they actually mean,” adding, “You end up with a problem like this where what he wants to convey and what comes across (are) two different things.”

Cary said the campaign will consider creating a list of pre-approved GIFs for the candidate to use when responding to people on Twitter.

Ford, a more conservative Democrat, is used to criticism from the LGBT community.

Last year he was one of the few Democrats to support a Republican bill to allow magistrates to recuse themselves from performing same-sex marriages. This session he has been one of the few Democrats to support a repeal of HB2 that would put LGBT protections to local referendum votes.

But the criticism has turned up to 11 since Ford announced he’d be running against Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, a fellow Democrat, as she seeks re-election.

Roberts supported and defended the Charlotte City Council ordinance that extended greater legal protections to LGBT people in the city – and resulted in the N.C. General Assembly’s passage of HB2.

Ford said he supported the ordinance but not its bathroom provision, the most controversial part of the bill. He was conspicuously absent during the HB2 vote but later said he would support repeal.

In an interview with N.C. Policy Watch Wednesday, Comer said he appreciated Ford’s apology and hopes he’ll actually be open to dialogue with the LGBT community. But if he thinks he can make criticism go away while still supporting policies that hurt LGBT people, Comer said, he’s sorely mistaken.

My concern that I think would be echoed by other LGBTQ leaders across the state is that Senator Ford’s first impulse on issues of equality seems to be to take a discriminatory position,” Comer said. “Then, when he meets criticism he’ll pull away from that.”

Matt Comer, LGBTQ activist

If Ford wants to be mayor of Charlotte – the state’s largest city and home to a large and vocal LGBT community – Comer said he’ll have to do better than that.

“He has an opportunity now to actually listen to this community and understand how his statements and his positions have affected us,” Comer said. “I hope he’ll take that opportunity and it can lead to some change.”

In a statement Wednesday, Ford left room for questions about just how fruitful that dialogue will be.

“To provide context, I am tired of being slandered by some people on Twitter as anti-LGBT and homophobic,” Ford said in the statement. “I have worked to find solutions that are realistic and impactful but some people do not see it that way.”

Commentary

Another bitter HB2 reminder today as NCAA hoops tourney starts in South Carolina

NCAA logoSouth Carolina is a fine place with many fine people, but let’s be honest: North Carolina losing out to the Palmetto state on a regular basis in the economic development and major events worlds makes about as much sense as the Tar Heels losing on an annual basis to Clemson or the University of South Carolina in basketball. It’s an assault on the basic order of the universe and something even the folks in South Carolina don’t really expect to happen or seem to feel quite right about.

Amazingly, however, that’s what’s happening now as HB2 approaches its one-year anniversary. Today is another bitter reminder of our new reality as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament — an event that’s as synonymous with North Carolina as any other state in the union — gets underway south of the border. Luke DeCock of Raleigh’s News & Observer explains:

“If any state knows how North Carolina feels right now, it’s right next door. South Carolina spent 14 years in NCAA limbo, prohibited from hosting NCAA neutral-site championships as long as the Confederate flag flew on the capital grounds. It came down in July 2015, less than a year before House Bill 2 put North Carolina in the same position.

In Greenville, S.C., where North Carolina and Duke will play this week instead of Greensboro, there’s a definite sense of opportunity, with North Carolina potentially excluded from six years of NCAA events unless HB2 is repealed in the next few days. There’s also sympathy.

‘I hate it for North Carolina,’ said Robin Wright, the senior sports manager at Visit Greenville SC. ‘I hate it for all you guys. I really do.’

But when the NBA pulled its All-Star Game out of Charlotte in July, Wright went ahead and blocked hotel rooms for this week, just in case the NCAA followed suit – which it did, two months later.

Wright’s foresight played a key role in Greenville landing the subregional when the NCAA moved it and six other 2016-17 neutral-site events out of North Carolina in September because of HB2, which prevents cities and counties from enacting anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people. The ACC quickly followed suit.

As repeal efforts stagnate, and as the NCAA’s April 18 date to announce championship sites in 2018-19 through 2021-22 looms – already postponed from December to give North Carolina more time – the possibility that North Carolina could be out of the NCAA and ACC picture for six years is increasingly likely, with events for 2017-18 likely to be yanked at or around the same time.”

DeCock goes on to explain that the South Carolina folks are now working hard, understandably, to capitalize on North Carolina’s self-inflicted wound by expanding their bids and to make the NCAA events they’ve already snatched big successes. He concludes this way:
“If Greenville, Furman and the Southern Conference pull this off with aplomb, and HB2 is still on the books on the other side of the border, it might be more than six years before the NCAA tournament returns to North Carolina.”
Meanwhile, Senator Phil Berger and the other HB2 true believers fiddle while their state’s image/brand burns around them.