Monday was one of the more bizarre days and nights at the General Assembly in a long time and we will have plenty to say about it here in the next few days as we sort out all the deals and the damage that was done.
But you have to give the Republican legislative leaders credit for one thing. They are vigilant about not letting the facts get in the way of their talking points.
Last night Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger appeared on the Capital Tonight show on News 14 and said that the small business tax break passed last year was just for small businesses, despite a News & Observer report last month that showed it was also going to wealthy lawyers, doctors and private equity partners.
The tax cut started out last year with a cap to make sure that only small businesses received it but the cap was removed as the legislation made its way through the House and Senate.
Democrats tried several times this session to put the cap back on, to make sure that only small businesses received the break, and wanted to use the money to reduce the cuts to public schools and to pay for compensation for eugenics survivors that Speaker Tillis said at the beginning of the summer session was important to him.
The Republicans refused to even allow a vote on the proposal. They didn’t want to talk about it.
It remains one of the defining moments of this session. They literally chose millionaires over teachers and eugenics victims.
And Berger knows it. During last year’s debate, Senator Dan Clodfelter told the Senate that as a law partner in a major Charlotte firm, he would be receiving the tax cut and he didn’t think that was wise to spend money that way during a budget crisis while teachers were being fired.
Berger was there. And Berger certainly heard the Democrats this year pointing out that much of the tax break went to millionaires. And his staff surely read the News & Observer story in early June.
Berger knows the tax cut went to millionaires and he knows that’s a tough sell to the public when at-risk kids are locked out of pre-k and schools don’t have enough teachers or textbooks.
So he’ll just keep denying it and counting on people letting him get away with it.