Senate of Shame

We think it will find favor with everyone who needs to find favor with it." - Tony Rand

That's the quote the Insider leads with in its coverage of the budget announcement. And it is no doubt true - especially the 60,000 wealthiest individuals in North Carolina who get a break on their income taxes, while the other 9 million see a permanent increase in the sales tax rate.

It's a testament to Speaker Joe Hackney that he held the line on several other important issues in the budget bill. And it's a nail in Tim Kent's coffin that he spent nearly $700,000 of Realtors' money to lose the transfer tax battle. But it's a big black eye on the morality and decency of our state that the wealthy are getting a tax break at a time when so many are struggling just to make ends meet.

Shame on the North Carolina Senate.


PS And kudos to Greg Flynn. As far as I'm concerned, he was the point of the spear on pushing back against the Home Ticks. I hope you'll go out of your way to thank Greg for his tireless and innovative work in fighting a ruthless and well-funded Goliath.



does he hate poor people?

"Keep the Faith"

"Keep the Faith"


A little tidbit in the N&O story

But Easley, who can veto the budget, may not be pleased with one provision that provides $60 million for a signature college scholarship program of his this year but with no guarantee for next year.

Michaux pointed out that legislators also gave Easley $56 million annually for the next two years to expand his More at Four prekindergarten program by another 10,000 seats. And language in the 2005 lottery law was changed to allow for higher prize payouts and hopefully increase ticket sales.

"He ought to recognize that we've done the best we could with what we had," Michaux said


Maybe the Guv will veto this sucker and tell them to keep the tax on the wealthy . . . and use it to fund the program he wants. That would be okay by me. In fact, I'm going to write him a letter suggesting just that.

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Democracy has prevailed

Yes, three cheers for Greg Flynn for leading this crusade and kudos also to Chris Fitzsimon at NC Policy Watch who has been a vocal proponent on the transfer tax vote to the point of becoming a target of the Realtors and Homebuilders.


Sorry for failing to point to the great work you all have done on this. It ain't over till it's over, but I applaud everyone at NC Policy Watch . . . and Mr. Flynn . . . on an amazing effort. And especially Chris. The realtors I know are already regretting the whole miserable affair.

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God Bless the Senate

The original Senate budget included neither of these taxes. It was the House, not the Senate, that insisted in continuing the sales tax. Senate leaders would only consent to the continuation of the sales tax if it financed the Medicaid swap. And since this swap is a permanent addition to state expenditures, the tax would likewise have to become permanent.

I wanted both continued.

The Democrat Republican-controlled Senate has lost touch with the needs of the state. They have become the Chamber of Special Interests. The House was wrong to cave on the rich guy tax. I hope Easley vetoes the whole damn thing until the GA properly funds the state's many and growing needs.

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For now, I'll take it...

I don't like the rollback of the tax on the wealthiest earners, but honestly, the tax rate is one of the most fudged things in the state. It gets pushed around a little every session. If we can have a roaring progressive turnout next year, and stretch those majorities a bit, and maybe take out a few of the bad Dems in primaries, that can be reversed. I don't like the sales tax getting continued either, but if it goes towards an EITC, I can stomach it.

The transfer tax, though, is a breakthrough. These local funding options are the only way to get some sanity into our fiscal picture as a state. I think this may be a bit more meaningful to those of us in Durham County -- we spent 12 years beating our heads against the wall of the NC Homebuilders trying to get a local bill through to let us have a school impact fee, then another 3 years fighting a lawsuit based on the adequate facilities clause in the state constitution, trying to do it without the lege. That didn't work either. This year, provided this gets the Governor's autograph, we'll get even better local funding, albeit not as directly targeted to growth as an impact fee, and for once we didn't have to try to do the heavy lifting. Thanks very much to WakeUP Wake County and the folks in Mecklenburg and other areas that pushed this. I wish Durham could have joined in with more gusto, but quite honestly, we didn't have any dry powder left after 15 years.

I know what you mean

and I want to agree . . . but I'm sick of settling for compromises that always seems to favor the elite.

In the past year, I've personally been working closely with and supporting two families who very much live on the edge. No insurance, no savings, unreliable cars, hard-working as hell, sweet people who are good, honest Christians. It makes me sick to see all the things they struggle with.

For one family, getting one of the kids into college has been a dead-end nightmare - not because he's dumb, but because of transportation, paperwork, costs and the blur of red tape. In the other family, the son has chosen to join the Navy because he has no other options that seem workable. The family is distraught because they see the military as a basket case right now . . . and don't want their son ending up in some war zone . . . he's doing it only for the money.

The poor get fucked over every day. One little wobble and all hell breaks lose. One of the mom's is delaying knee surgery for money reasons . . . and in the meantime is getting buried under the debt of pain medicine, which our esteemed health care system isn't covering.

The dad has has had a fever for three days and says 'it'll pass' (which it may) . . . while running the risk of needing to go to the ER . . . or worse, discover he has some chronic ailment that will keep him from working in a job where he gets no vacation, no sick leave, no nothing. He injured one eye a few years back. No insurance coverage, and no knowledge of how to deal with the system. He didn't even go to the ER because of how they treated his kid the last time he went. Now he's blind in that eye.

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Is that in the final bill? The Fayetteville Observer says

The budget agreement also would create a state version of the federal earned income tax credit, giving cash rebates to some tax filers even if they paid no taxes.

I hate when they phrase it like that, like people are getting something for nothing. Low income people pay a lot higher percentage of their income in taxes other than income tax. When we look at tax incidence, to be fair we need to include all taxes, not just income tax. The EITC is one way to level that out a little bit, and morally, I don't see any other way we could justify keeping that extra .25% sales tax while rolling back the income tax for the wealthy.

How much

is the impact (in dollars) of the tax break for the rich CEOs and NHL players? What could have been paid for with that money? And lastly, is there any point in lobbying Easley to veto this turkey?

I'm as happy as anyone about getting the transfer tax, but it sure looks like we gave away the farm to get it.

You've got to remember

You only got the right to vote on the transfer tax option, if your county commission decides to put it on the table for you to vote on. The Realtors Association will still be out in force spreading misconceptions and deceptions each time the tax hits a ballot, I expect. It will be up to us to take the good information that Greg and NC Policy Watch and the rest of the good guys have given us and make sure it gets spread around quite liberally when that happens.

The fight ain't over. We just got permission to take the field.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I Agree ...

... The Realtors Association will still be out in force spreading misconceptions.


The fight ain't over. We just got permission to take the field.

It's time to see if 'We the People' can do a better job. I think we can because we don't have wads of cash waving under our noses all the time.

What is it about money attracts such corruption? All you can do is buy stuff with it ... how much is enough?

Budget bill update

The Senate adjourned 4:30pm so that Sen. Basnight could hold a meeting to sort out the final details of the budget bill before going to print overnight. If I understand it right, the budget bill should be ready for a Senate Finance Committee meeting tomorrow at 11.00 and the full Senate reconvenes at noon. He said, based on the bill's progress, that he expects the Senate to be able to vote on it tomorrow night.

Stop the NC Association of Realtors
Polluting our State Legislature with money.

Dome is reporting that the deal may unravel

Could just be rumor-mongering, but I wouldn't put it past the Senate to sell out again to the Home Ticks pressure. Here's the story.

Senate Democrats were expecting to discuss the agreement in a caucus this afternoon, but when they met, Senate leader Marc Basnight turned the focus to a landfill bill, Dan Kane reports.


He would not say if there are enough votes in the caucus to pass what he and House Speaker Joe Hackney, an Orange County Democrat, had agreed to last night.

Senate Democrats have a 31-19 edge in the chamber, but several Democratic members have said they are troubled with a proposed budget provision that gives counties the option to hold a referendum to raise the land transfer tax from .2 percent to .6 percent.

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So Who Are These Traitorous Wretches?

several Democratic members have said they are troubled with a proposed budget provision that gives counties the option to hold a referendum to raise the land transfer tax from .2 percent to .6 percent.

We need to know. Because we don't want to see them on the ballot next time.

The counties need options. It's not State's business to withhold "permission" for them to do what needs to be done.


An even newer update from Mark Binker. Looks like the budget will be a little delayed but fairly intact and the caucus will stick together.
Budget Update: Later Thursday

Personal update. My 3yr old daughter and I were at the K&W cafeteria in Raleigh's Cameron Village this evening when we saw Dan Gerlach in the line with some legislators. Later we were outside eating ice cream when the group emerged. With minimal rehearsal my daughter walked up to Dan and said "Thank you for the transfer tax". All politics is local.

Stop the NC Association of Realtors
Polluting our State Legislature with money.

That is So Cool.

my daughter walked up to Dan and said "Thank you for the transfer tax". All politics is local.

Think globally, Act Locally ...

The 'net has let us see what that really means ...

Many of these Senators who

Many of these Senators who are apprehensive to a transfer tax live in competitive districts where they are constant targets by the state Republican Party. While the budget simply authorizes a transfer tax option for the counties, these Senators will still be subject to spin and misinformation campaign by their opponents next year.

Implicit in other posts is the threat of a primary challenge to some of these legislators if they do not vote this or that way, but a far more credible threat comes from a well-financed, anti-tax spewing Republican. There is nothing dishonorable or inherently wrong with keeping the political landscape in mind.

The transfer tax is a good thing, no doubt, but it is still politically sensitive. If this tax did not appear in the budget, I can assure you that the sanctimonious House would not have passed the tax as a stand alone measure.

Besides that, these Senators have not even voted on the budget or the transfer tax. To target them for simply raising objections seems rather abrasive.

It's the roll-back of the income tax on wealthy individuals

that most bothers me. Their transfer tax objections are more like gravy on the income tax mashed potatoes.

What do you have against being abrasive? When you're being out-spent, out-gunned, out-lobbied and ignored by the Inner Sanctum, abrasive is often the only recourse.

I don't think there will be many primary challenges to scaredy-cat Senators. That's mostly wishful thinking from what I can tell.

Final thought: anti-tax Republican challengers don't need actual votes to spew their venom. They'll all be tapping into Art Pope's Magical 4999 Money Machine to run "issue" ads in targeted districts. What's true or not true about a candidate's record doesn't matter one bit. "Truth" will be whatever Mr. Pope says it is . . . and gullible voters and the lapdog North Carolina press will go right along with it.

Given all that, you would think elected representatives would vote their consciences instead of whatever the party leadership says. With only three Senators objecting in the original vote, it's hard to conclude that the "conscience" of the Senate would be so dramatically different from that of the house.


PS Love your name, by the way. One of the best I've seen out here on the interTubes.

Primary challenges

are good for democracy. What's so bad about debating the issues within the party, rather than simply crowning a unchallenged winner every 2 years. These positions should not be seen as lifetime appointments.

It is incredible that the Democratic-controlled Senate would endorse a tax cut for the 60,000 wealthiest individuals in the state at the same time that they are going to borrow $500 million for capital spending. How disconnected from reality can you be?

Well the whole problem with

Well the whole problem with this proposed tax is that there is no, from far as I can tall, real leadership position. If the transfer tax appears in the budget, then there is no doubt that the more powerful members of the Democratic caucus would like the members to vote for the budget, even if for different reasons. I don't think the transfer tax is a make or break deal with any of the members, but it doesn't seem to me that the caucus is unified one way or another.

The original Senate budget, which you are correct in noting had only three dissenting votes, was a different creature than what media reports of this new budget indicate. The Republican support will no doubt diminish because of the transfer tax and the extension of the sales tax.

It'll probably be a straight party line vote, maybe with one or two Democrats abstaining or voting the other way. Which is the same as it will be in the House. Leading up to this final budget, the two chambers had far different priorities. But their consciences you'll find, are not so different.

Maybe it's just the numbers game?

I've talked with a few Senators and many more House members. The sense of the bodies I get from these dozen or so people is very different. But it might just be who's willing to talk to me.