Our state and our nation are heading over the falls. Faced with a stagnant economy, we are paddling toward the cost-cutting edge, ripping services to the barest of bones. Almost no one disputes the need to trim, the only question is how far to go. Discussions I'm hearing, however, involve only one side of the balance sheet. And just to say it, a chief executive taking that approach would be laughed out of any corporate boardroom in the world. Excellence requires sustained investment. Investment requires capital. It's time to raise some.
Start by dialing up the share of lottery proceeds going into schools, maybe even doubling it. A one year plan, just to see what happens.
In addition, create a new top tier state income tax bracket for every category of filing status. The bracket should have higher rates than the current top tier. Propose restricting receipts to funding for education. Make this policy change for one year only, with a requirement that it expire on a date certain.
Here's the starting point. If you can't manage an overhaul, just move all those 7.75% figures to 8.00%. Easy peasy.
3. Put in place a monitoring team for tracking the implementation costs, economic impacts, and risks for North Carolina, as well as keeping an eye on what other states are doing.
In competition with other states, North Carolina's strong suits have been public education, quality of life, and natural environment, with a thread of innovation (First in Flight, RTP, etc.) woven in. We have not raced to the bottom, the whole world knows this.
I believe those strengths deserve investment and protection.
I believe people in North Carolina and throughout America would see our state as a stronger, more innovative leader if our Governor proposed raising taxes to support such investments. Whether the General Assembly approves the recommendations is not the point. The Governor would be taking a stand that would enhance our state's reputation worldwide.
"It's irresponsible to be looking at one side of the balance sheet," said Governor Perdue in presenting her budget proposal. "We've found a way to sustain our investments in education by asking the wealthiest in North Carolina to contribute a little bit more. It's a one year plan, an experiment. And we'll know soon enough if our projections are right.
"And just to be clear, I do mean asking. We're not forcing anyone to do anything. A rich person can say, 'I've had enough,' and move to another state. I hope that doesn't happen and I honestly don't think it will. North Carolina has so much to offer as a state. Everybody, rich and poor alike, understand this. We must protect our strengths.
"If my plan to ask the richest North Carolinian to pay a bit more in taxes doesn't work, well, I'll have the satisfaction of knowing I stood for what I believe is fair and right."
I'm no tax expert, and I don't even play one on television. So there's a chance this little thought experiment has some fatal economic flaws. It could have political flaws too. Lord knows, my track record in getting elected pretty much sucks.
BlueNC is dedicated to freedom and fairness for the people of North Carolina. If you share that vision, welcome. If your intention is to disrupt our efforts, please find somewhere else to express your opinions.
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