Here’s another one from the “You can’t make this stuff up” Department at the North Carolina General Assembly. Today, at 10:00 am in the Legislative Press Conference Room, the N.C. Retail Merchants Association will kick off a canned food drive to help feed the state’s poor and hungry citizens.
“What’s so strange about that?” you might ask.
The N.C. Retail Merchants Association is the exact same lobby group that is helping to spearhead the legislature’s mean-spirited and unprecendented attack on the state’s already inadequate unemployment insurance benefits program!
You got that? Last week, a lobbyist for the group was a featured speaker at an employer-sponsored press conference to tout the legislation and characterize the state’s workers as lazy and undeserving of benefits — even though the jobless outnumber the stock of available jobs three-to-one. Today, the same group will issue a plea for average citizens to cough up some canned food to throw at those same out-of-work families (and then stand by and bask in the glow of the positive P.R. the event will produce).
Legislative leaders are seeking to further reduce and eliminate North Carolina’s personal income tax, despite the fact that such a plan would make the state’s tax system more regressive by shifting the tax load onto those least able to afford it. Broadly speaking, this tax shift would have huge implications for North Carolina’s low- and middle-income residents, as a new NC Budget and Tax Center report shows.
But as Dave Ribar, an economist at UNCG, points out in his blog Applied Rationality, older adults would be disproportionately impacted by the Civitas/Laffer/Senate plan that calls for elimination of the state’s personal income tax.
Tax policies that benefit older adults by reducing the taxes that they pay—such as the exemption of social security income, partial exemption of pension income, and higher standard deduction—would go away with the elimination of the state personal income tax. Spending patterns are also unique for the average retiree, argues Ribar. An increased reliance on the regressive sales tax would hit retirees harder because they spend a greater share of their retirement income on consumption items—particularly items such as food and prescriptions that would be newly taxed at the state level under this plan. Read More…
A new Working Poor Families Project report finds for a fifth consecutive year the number of low-income working families has risen in the U.S., with nearly a third of all working families unable to earn enough to meet their basic needs.
New data show that 10.4 million U.S. working families were low-income in 2011, up from 10.2 million in 2010.
In North Carolina, 36% of the state’s working families were living below 200% of the federal poverty level in 2011 – struggling to cover housing costs, utilities, and child care.
Nationwide, the total number of people that make-up low-income working families stands at 47.5 million. That is roughly equivalent to the total number of residents in California, Oregon, and Washington combined.
The report calls on federal and state policymakers to take actions that strengthen both job growth and job quality, and increase access to educational opportunities.
To read the full report, click here.
The New Year is right around the corner along with a raft of important policy debates and decisions. Please join us on January 7 as we grapple with one of the most important issues confronting state government — the future of our state’s most important anti-poverty and middle class preservation program: unemployment insurance.
Unfortunately, right now, state lawmakers appear determined at this point to advance “reform” legislation negotiated in secret with the state Chamber of Commerce that would slash benefits and eligibility in ways not seen anywhere else in the United States. Such cuts would almost certainly have a disastrous impact on tens of thousands of workers, their families and communities and, quite likely, the state’s economy as a whole.
Happily it does not have to be this way. According to experts like George Wentworth, a Senior Attorney at the National Employment Law Project, , there are balanced and responsible paths toward long-term economic solvency for the Trust Fund that will not decimate worker benefits and eligibility.
Don’t miss this chance to hear from one of the nation’s experts on this vital subject at this critical time.