Wednesday, May 04, 2005

N.C. Senate Democrats To the Filthy Rich: "Who's Your Daddy?"

The N.C. Senate Democrats unveiled their proposed budget yesterday. So much to wince at, so little time:

$500 million in cuts to services to the poor.

A half-percentage point reduction in the corporate income tax rate.

And a 0.25-percentage point reduction in the income tax rate for high earners.

What was supposed to be a temporary half-penny sales tax increase adopted in 2001 will be made permanent -- a tax that disproportionately burdens low-wage earners.

A new sales tax on candy, and increased taxes for satellite television service and liquor -- the new "sin" taxes, in other words, aimed at the pleasures taken by people of modest means.

A pay raise of 2 percent or $500 -- whichever is greater -- for state employees. The minimum annual state employee salary would be raised to $20,112, a.k.a. "poverty." Retirees in the state system would receive a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. However, state employees will still face higher co-pays and deductibles for health insurance. Call it a wash. (We like our state employees needy!)

The bill would also create a lottery for North Carolina and ban one of its chief competitors -- video poker.

The biggest sacred cow in this budget, other than corporate fat cats? Higher education (and another reason to hate the eggheads):

"Education leaders praised the spending plan, which fully funds costs associated with increasing enrollment and provides a $48 million discretionary fund for public schools. Community college faculty and administrators would receive an additional 2 percent pay raise. 'We are extremely grateful that the Senate budget keeps reductions in the university's operating budgets as low as possible, and that it provides the university with the flexibility to make required cuts in a manner that minimizes harm to each campus,' UNC President Molly Broad said."

The Senate Democrats were planning to vote this budget today, despite opposition from Republicans. But that will only signal the really hard work to come: negotiating with the N.C. House, which has a significantly different version of tax-and-spend.

ADDENDUM: Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch has more in-depth analysis of the N.C. Senate's budget here. He calls it "scandalous."

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