The Follies

The Follies

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McCrory gives state employees a video thanks instead of a raise

In a case of perfect timing, Governor Pat McCrory released a video Friday morning thanking state employees for their service to North Carolina and declaring next week State Employee Recognition Week.

Later in the morning McCrory signed a state budget that denies most state employees a raise, instead giving them a one-time $750 bonus that will not count toward their retirement.

The lack of a raise comes despite a state revenue surplus. Legislative leaders and McCrory decided to cut taxes again, primarily on corporations and the wealthy, instead of giving state workers even the modest two percent across the board pay increase the House budget originally proposed.

McCrory wants to recognize state employees—but not pay them very much.

Most teachers also receive bonus that’s less than half of millionaires tax break

More than two thirds of the state’s teachers will also receive only the meager bonus instead of a salary hike. The $750 one-time payment is less than half of the $1,800 ongoing annual windfall millionaires will receive from the tax changes in the budget.

The lack of a raise for most teachers won’t do much to improve North Carolina’s bottom ten ranking in teacher pay and ought to make it harder for lawmakers to head home and claim they support teachers. Their budget certainly doesn’t show it.

McCrory says raising taxes on low-income families is fine

Speaking of taxes, Gov. McCrory gave a troubling explanation to reporters this week for why he decided to sign the budget after sharply criticizing it last weekend for raising taxes on small businesses and working men and women.

McCrory was upset by the last minute provision stuck into the budget that expands the state sales tax to services used by millions of people, car repair, appliance installation, clothing alterations, etc.

The budget imposes the sales taxes on the services to raise money for a special fund to give more revenue to 79 mostly rural counties. The sales tax expansion hurts low-income families hardest of course and means that even with an income tax reduction in the budget people at the bottom of the economic ladder will experience a net tax increase.

That’s not speculation. Progressive and conservative pundits alike acknowledge that, as does McCrory himself. But McCrory said he decided to sign the bill anyway because it provides an overall tax cut to the people in North Carolina.

In other words, McCrory has no problem with raising taxes on low-income families as long as taxes on wealthy people are reduced enough to make the overall changes a net tax cut. Lovely.

No to renewable energy, yes to fracking

McCrory bizarre logic isn’t the only contradiction associated with the spending plan approved this week. There are plenty of them, none more ridiculous that the decision to end the successful renewable energy tax credit that is creating thousands of jobs while including a provision spending taxpayer money to support the fracking industry.

Then Friday morning the details of an economic incentive bill that will be debated next week were released. It includes a tax break for plane fuel sought by the airlines.

If you are keeping score at home, that means that lawmakers believe that supporting clean, renewable energy is not the proper role for government, but supporting fracking and jet fuel for the airline industry is.

The folks on right-wing avenue crusaded for months against the renewable energy tax credit with an almost religious fervor. It will be interesting to see if they are equally outraged by the newest breaks for specific industries.

Lawmakers pass controversial budget, then protect themselves from the voters

And finally in what is surely not a coincidence, just after the controversial budget was released, legislative leaders announced an agreement to move next year’s primary elections for the General Assembly and every other office from May to March.

The previous plan was to move only the presidential primary up to give North Carolina a more prominent role in selecting the two major presidential candidates.

But now all the primaries will be held in March with candidate filings as early as December. It’s a huge advantage for incumbents. Potential primary opponents will have little time to get campaigns organized and to raise money.

Given the absurdly gerrymandered districts, the only threat to many state lawmakers comes in the primaries. Moving up the election reduces that threat.

It’s also worth noting that the sure to be unpopular expansion of the sales tax base to services like car repairs, appliance installation, and clothing alterations takes effect in March so many voters won’t realize they are paying more for basic services until the primary is over.

No wonder they are moving it up.