Opinion: Should N.C. Raise Sales Tax to Help Education? No

Marion Herbert's picture
Monday, January 23, 2012

Last week, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue proposed an increase in the state sales tax, taking more than $800 million out of the pockets of North Carolinians. She tries to sell the plan as a tool for education funding, but she fails to offer any meaningful strategy ensuring the money will be spent wisely.

The governor's proposal would result in a 15 percent increase in the state portion of the sales tax, negatively affecting every level of society. Now is not the time to raise taxes - especially on single moms, senior citizens and the unemployed. The governor will say "It's just a penny." It is not a penny. It is $800 million from the pocketbooks of people, many of whom are just making ends meet. Moreover, $320 million will be paid by our state's job creating engines - mostly small businesses.

The legislature has taken positive steps for education over the past year. Despite inheriting a $3 billion structural deficit from the governor's last budget, we passed a balanced budget that actually resulted in an increase in the number of state-funded teaching positions. And we did it without raising taxes.

The governor's call to raise taxes without a plan to improve our schools is evidence that she is satisfied with the status quo and believes it's simply a matter of more money. Legislators disagree. The governor needs to avoid management debacles, such as the hundreds of millions of dollars in waste caused by a new HHS information system and a mismanaged motor fleet. There is plenty of room to more wisely spend the tax revenues we already receive before we increase the burden.

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