I confess to having had on-again-off-again enthusiasm for Governor Perdue over the past year or so, but lately I'm mostly "on." I think she's done a good job in general handling the catastrophic financial mess she inherited from George W. Bush. And I especially appreciated her recent push-back against the regressive budget proposals from the House and Senate. The showdown has naturally captured the attention of North Carolina's editorial pages, many of which share the sentiments of BlueRidgeNow.
The General Assembly won't reach a budget deal this week. That's the bad news. It's also the good news. Gov. Bev Perdue, who had pitched a king-size tax package of her own as the clock wound down on the 2008-09 budget year, was startled to learn three days ago that her fellow Democrats in the Legislature had come up with one even worse.
The Democratic leaders cobbled together a $982 million tax package that included a 1-cent sales tax, 10 cent a pack cigarette tax, new beer and wine taxes -- plus an extra 2 percent personal income tax.
"I saw a proposal that stunned me, quite frankly," Perdue told reporters Thursday night. "Who in the world thinks in these trying, challenging times for families that you can raise income tax on working families and middle class families?"
Guice, a freshman Republican, lamented the lack of public hearings, the budget writers' refusal to consider a variety of program cuts and the closed club that makes the decisions. "Democrats and Republicans alike have been left out of these budget discussions," Guice said in his remarks on the House floor.
We predicted in this space at the time that Guice's critique would not faze the Democratic leaders. How right we were. As the latest Democratic tax package shows, it's gotten worse. Not only did the backroom budget crafters not consult with the rank and file, they didn't bother to bring the governor into the loop.
I don't know if they kept the Governor in the loop or not, for all I know this could be pure grand-standing. But somehow I think not. Somehow I think the good old boys who craft North Carolina's budget and tax policy have gotten so used to doing whatever the heck they want, that they forgot there's a new Governor sitting a few blocks away.
I just wish Perdue would also threaten to veto any budget that continues to subsidize out-of-state athletes to the tune of $10 million each year.