A proposed land transfer tax OPTION -- note that last word -- is holding up approval of the state budget, as the powerful real estate and homebuilders lobbies have mounted a huge (and hugely expensive) campaign to kill the idea in its cradle.
The tax OPTION would give hard-pressed counties the right to propose a new tax on property sales, especially those counties where new and second-home sales are putting incredible pressures on infrastructure, from water & sewer services to new schools. The state Senate seems cowed by the real estate special interests, while the leadership in the House is holding firm for keeping the tax OPTION in the budget.
Yesterday Gov. Easley actually found his voice and spoke out: "I think that a lot of the legislators are scared of the Realtors and they've got to decide: Do they stand with the Realtors or do they stand with the people they represent?"
That's putting it succinctly.