Critics of NC GOP tax policy want to stop corporate income tax cuts

Eliminating the state’s corporate income tax means more money for out-of-state corporations and less to support the needs of North Carolinians, critics said Monday.

NC sources of revenue

NC sources of revenue Source: NC consensus economic forecast

They discussed bills that would freeze the corporate income tax at 2.5% rather than have it fall to zero in 2030. 

North Carolina’s corporate income tax rate was 6.9% from 2011 to 2013 and declined in steps over the years to 2.5% in 2019. Republican legislators’ budget plan has the corporate rate set to start falling again in 2025 until the tax is eliminated in 2030. In his budget released last week, Gov. Roy Cooper proposed halting the corporate tax cut. 

“Making sure corporations pay what they owe provides critical dollars to connect more people to  economic opportunity, and supports the expansion and start up of locally-owned businesses,” said Alexandra Sirota, executive director of the NC Budget and Tax Center said Monday. 

According to a 2021 poll, about two-thirds of North Carolinians oppose eliminating the corporate income tax, NC Policy Watch reported. 

The consensus revenue forecast presented last month showed corporate income tax revenue is 5% of total state revenues. Money collected from personal income taxes is 53% of state revenues. North Carolina has a $3.25 billion revenue surplus. 

North Carolina’s corporate income tax rate of 2.5% is the lowest among the 44 states that have such a tax.

NC corporate income tax rate, by year

NC corporate income tax rate, by year Source: NC Department of Revenue

Corporations benefit from taxpayer-funded infrastructure and services, including roads their employees travel to get to work, public education, universities, and childcare subsidies, said Sen. Lisa Grafstein, a Wake County Democrat. She is a primary sponsor of the Senate bill that would cancel the corporate income tax phaseout. 

Stopping the tax cuts is unlikely this year, with Republican legislative leaders talking about more tax cuts rather than tax freezes. House Speaker Tim Moore told WUNC he wants to consider a range of tax cuts.

Cassandra Stokes, democracy and economy coordinator for NC Black Alliance, said corporate tax cuts cost all North Carolinians. Lawmakers should focus on helping state residents and local businesses, she said. 

“Eliminating the corporate income tax will not help connect the vast majority of black-owned businesses to technical assistance, to new capital, or to new markets,” Stokes said.”Instead it would send dollars out of state to large, profitable corporations and give outsized benefits to shareholders who are overwhelming white and overwhelmingly wealthy.”

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EPA asks for feedback on shipping waste to Sampson County, then admits it’s been doing just that — since 2017.

Sampson County Commission Thaddeus Godwin (front) is concerned about the effects of the landfill on the community. The Rev. Jimmy Melvin, with his hand raised, has long advocated for environmental protection in the county. (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

The stench punched them in the face. People scurried across the parking lot of the Snow Hill Missionary Baptist Church, trying to escape the clammy miasma that had descended over the neighborhood.

“It’s the landfill,” neighbors told the newcomers. “Some days we can’t even sit on our front porch.”

The Sampson County landfill, operated by GFL, is the largest in the state. It ranks second in methane emissions in the U.S. and first in North Carolina for vinyl chloride. But most of the time, it just stinks.

On a recent Saturday, about 40 county residents had assembled at the church to hear from the EPA and the Greenfield Environmental Multistate Trust about plans to transport non-hazardous waste from a Superfund site in Brunswick County to the landfill.

Several years ago, the Multistate Trust was appointed by a federal bankruptcy court to clean up the former Kerr-McGee property in Navassa, where improper handling and burial of creosote has contaminated the soil, a swamp and groundwater, as deep as 90 feet.

Last year residents successfully thwarted the EPA’s proposal to ship 140 truckloads – 2,800 cubic yards – of contaminated soil from a less polluted portion of the property to Sampson County. 

Now the EPA, in concert with the Multistate Trust and with input from state regulators, wants to send 3 tons of other types of waste from Kerr-McGee to the landfill: railroad ties, personal protective equipment and silt fencing.

“We know how overburdened this county is,” said Claire Woods, director of Environmental Justice Policies and Programs at the Multistate Trust. “We want to minimize the impacts.”

Claire Woods of the Greenfield Multistate Trust (Photo: Lisa Sorg)

But moments later, residents realized for the first time that the impacts had already been inflicted on the neighborhood.

Woods and the EPA acknowledged that since 2017, 20 tons of PPE, debris, sampling waste, grout and mud have been shipped 68 miles to the Sampson County landfill – which accepted it. 

Anger erupted from every corner of the room.

“But you’re telling us about it today.”

“Let’s call a thing a thing, this is a minority neighborhood and we’re guinea pigs.” 

“We can’t breathe.”

“We need restrictions and rules. We don’t know what we’re smelling.”

The state is not required to notify residents of what’s entering the landfill, said Sherri White-Willamson, director of the NC Environmental Justice Community Action Network, which was instrumental in fighting last year’s soil disposal plan.

In 1982 and 1983, Sampson County Commissioners assured Snow Hill residents the landfill would be innocuous, resident Eddie Williams said.

History has proved otherwise. 

“The air is bad,” Williams said. “It hurts people.”

(CleanAIRE NC recently received a $500,000 grant from the EPA to work with EJCAN and to establish a network of air quality monitors.)

Danielle Koonce, who grew up in Sampson County, said residents should demand to know what’s entering the landfill. “Black and Brown communities are overburdened,” she said. 

Many private drinking water wells have also been contaminated with nitrates, arsenic, and total coliform – an indicator of fecal bacteria. However, the exact sources are unknown: Numerous unlined dumps, including one adjacent to the existing lined landfill; land application of treated sewage, the proliferation of enormous poultry and hog farms.

Koonce recalled that a county commissioner once told her that water issues “were part of living in the rural South.”

Someone chimed in: “And you’re Black.”

Cooper launches Office of Violence Prevention as Republicans send gun reform bill to his desk

Gov. Roy Cooper

Last week Gov. Roy Cooper announced that he’d launch an Office of Violence Prevention, an initiative aimed at reducing violence and firearm misuse across North Carolina.

“All of us deserve to feel safe in our homes, our schools and our communities,” Cooper said in a statement. “This new office will help coordinate the efforts to reduce violent crime, tackle both intentional and careless gun injuries and deaths, and work to keep people safe.”

Cooper created the office via an executive order. That mandate lays out an array of stats justifying the office’s creation, including that an average of five North Carolinians die each day from gun violence, more than half of deaths caused by guns are suicides, and the presence of a firearm in an incident of domestic violence increases the risk of homicide by more than 500%. It also cites a national study finding that firearm deaths have overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of death for children.

Per Cooper’s order, the office will treat gun violence as a public health crisis, building a web of cooperation between local and state agencies to respond to violent crime and make communities safer across North Carolina. There will also be a Community Advisory Board, which will help develop the office’s strategic plan.

“Violence doesn’t just damage those who are directly impacted – it can be traumatic to the entire community,” Attorney General Josh Stein, who is also running for governor, said in a statement. “We can help break these devastating cycles of violence by investing in our communities, taking some common sense gun violence prevention measures, and strengthening partnerships between law enforcement and the people they serve.”

The Department of Public Safety has posted a job opening for an executive director on its website. The position pays between $85,000 and $121,507.

Cooper framed the office as part of his ongoing effort to reduce gun violence in North Carolina. He noted that he has vetoed bills that would weaken background checks required to buy firearms and has advocated for legislation to temporarily take guns away from people deemed by the courts to be a risk to themselves or others. That concept is one among many in gun reform bills floated by Democrats in the current legislative session, but those proposals have not advanced in the Republican-dominated legislature.

Republicans have sent their own “commonsense gun legislation” to Cooper’s desk, repealing a pistol permit required to buy a gun in North Carolina. Cooper has vetoed the proposal in the past, but Republicans might have the votes to overturn it this year thanks to gains they made in last year’s midterm elections.

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