Perdue calls for $1.5 billion in new taxes

June 18, 2009 2:19:41 AM PDT
Making a bid to shelter education and some government services from steep budget cuts, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue called for as much as $1.5 billion in new taxes Wednesday.Click here to read about Perdue's education rally Wednesday

"I applaud the General Assembly for their work to put a budget together. But – and that’s a big word – in North Carolina we must act boldly to protect the classroom," she said.

State lawmakers - looking to close a $4.5 billion revenue gap for the next fiscal year - have proposed larger class sizes and cutting thousands of teaching jobs along with steep cuts in other areas.

Perdue said when it comes to cuts, some things should be off the table.

"We cannot and must not cripple education," said Perdue. "Cutting education means cutting short our economic future."

Getting the Legislature to go along with a tax hike is a tall order. Most in her own party aren't comfortable with the idea and most Republicans are likely to oppose it.

Many have said that with the state economy in the shape that it is in, that asking the public to pay more is a bad idea.

"Every year they want more and more taxes. And the people ought to finally conclude that if they want to pay more taxes, they ought to vote for more Democrats," offered Representative Paul Stam, R-Apex.

House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, said it would be difficult to get enough votes to pass a final spending plan with more taxes.

"I know kind of where the votes are and I'm not sure how we're going to get there," Holliman said.

A House budget approved last weekend raised $784 million in taxes.

The Senate is now looking at a $950 million package that would expand the number of services subject to sales tax and remove income tax deductions while lowering tax rates overall.

All that is well short of the 1 to 1.5 billion dollars the governor is reportedly seeking.

Perdue will have to sign the final budget bill into law. Legislators and Perdue say they would like to see an agreement reached before the new fiscal year begins July 1.

"I'm not threatening a veto," Perdue said. "Right now is the time to come together and try to come to consensus for the people of North Carolina."


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