Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Question Is Often Asked: Is Our Lawmakers Learning?

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI guess the unprecendented federal budget deficits following the ginormous tax cuts for the rich haven't really made an impression on North Carolina's state lawmakers. I guess that the recent resolution of a $2 billion state deficit didn't really help the legislators understand how many people suffer under these tax cuts (medicaid cuts, housing cuts, lower investment in innovative technologies, etc.). And I guess that North Carolina republicans really want to drive our state into a financial and social crisis:
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usAsheville Citizen-Times: "At the heart of North Carolina’s budget stalemate lies a fundamental dispute over income taxes for people making six-figure salaries.

Advocates contend lowering the percent taxed on people in the top income bracket would help small- business owners and make the state more inviting to executives looking to locate or relocate businesses."

These arguments are straight out of the Republican tax cut script. "Free up the dollars of the wealthy who will then invest and innovate!" I wonder if they'll invest in health care for the poor or if they'll offer up a steaming pile of service jobs while sending manufacturing elsewhere. I wonder if the 125,000 dollar a year set will spend their hard-earned cash on NC made products...
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"North Carolina has the highest per capita, corporate and personal income tax rates among surrounding states, according to data from the state commerce department.

That’s why business leaders and some lawmakers are pushing to lower the corporate and personal income tax rates for individuals and couples bringing home $125,000 and $200,000 or more respectively.

Senate budget writers proposed reducing the taxes for high-income earners from 8.25 to 7.75 percent, the rate they paid before the 2001 recession. The senate also suggested lowering the state’s corporate tax rate from 6.9 to 6.4 percent in 2007.

House Democrats want to consider the taxes in tandem. They won’t agree to lower the corporate and personal income taxes unless the state lowers a tax that affects everyone, such as the state sales tax."

All this tax cutting talk. The Democrats want to cut taxes too... in addition to the corporate and wealthy tax breaks. They're evidently in some sort of competition with South Carolina, Alabama, and Tennesee to see who can provide the least helpful government for the majority of citizens. North Carolina has already slashed education spending, slashed mental health spending, frozen hiring and wages for state employees, and watched as Medicare/Medicaid costs rise meteorically. Yet the legislators backing further tax cuts seem blissfully unaware of the coming social crisis in the state.
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us"Critics maintain the compromise would have overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy. High-income earners would received an average tax cut of $2,000 while the bottom 20 percent of North Carolina taxpayers would realize a $5 savings per year from the lower state sales tax rate, said Elaine Mejia, director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center, a grassroots advocacy group."

Just like the reckless deficit doves of the Bush administration, our state legislators are working towards starving the government. As our population rises with more and more immigrants arriving, the pressures on the social services of the state are already maxed. Mental Health reform, as it continues down the path of least effectiveness, will send more of our neediest citizens to emergency rooms, hospitals, and jails. Housing costs are skyrocketing while salaries remain stagnant or drop as manufacturing moves overseas.

And they want to cut taxes.

Taxes, my $125,000/year and over friends, are the pricetag for living in a civilized society. If you don't like North Carolina taxes, bugger off. But if you love this state and you want to see her continue to grow and improve, then you'll pay your taxes, enjoy your roads, send your kids to decent schools, be protected, and know that the elderly are cared for, the veterans are cared for, the sick are cared for. Be proud of every tax dollar you pay rather than whinging because you won't be able to get that second plasma TV.

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