Published 3:26 pm Thursday, July 26, 2007
From the Kinston Free Press, July 25
It seems that taxes are a sticking point in the budget deadlock that is keeping the 2007 General Assembly in session. Here’s a solution that could end the debate: Don’t add any more taxes and allow the remnants of two ‘‘temporary taxes’’ that were enacted in 2001 to expire.
If lawmakers can do that, they’ll still have about $20 billion to spend. That should be more than enough for state officials to meet their constitutional duties to the citizens of North Carolina.
Back during the 2001 recession, when a nationwide economic downturn wasn’t producing enough revenues to pay for Gov. Mike Easley’s and lawmakers’ special projects, the General Assembly raised sales taxes by a half percentage point and put a half percentage point surcharge on upper income earners.
Instead of doing a little more belt-tightening, the politicians in Raleigh chose to force families across the state to tighten their budgets a bit more. At the time, state officials promised that the tax increases would be temporary and would sunset in two years.
Two years later, in 2003, those taxes were extended another two years. The same thing happened in 2005.
Then last year, with the economy spurring revenue surpluses approaching $2 billion, you would have thought that lawmakers would have eliminated those tax increases. But state officials don’t like to part with money once they get their hands on it. The General Assembly could only bring itself to cut those increases in half.
This year, with surpluses topping $1 billion, the time is ripe for the elimination of the remainder of those so-called temporary taxes.
Unfortunately there remain a lot of people in Raleigh who continue to find it difficult to let go. They’re becoming possessive, forgetting that it’s really your money that they’re spending.
They’re even talking about other taxes, such as a real estate transfer tax that could jack up the price of a home.
It’s time for the General Assembly to fulfill its commitment to the taxpayers and allow the temporary taxes to expire. They need to adjust their spending habits accordingly and realize that the state doesn’t need any new taxes.