New taxes for North Carolinians?

RALEIGH During a meeting Wednesday, protesters sounded off at the General Assembly over proposed cuts to schools and programs for the needy.

"We hear from the people of this state that they do not want $4.5 billion in cuts, and we have heard from countless people across the state," Rep. Paul Luebke said.

House Democrats who had originally said they did not want to raise taxes in a recession, now say they have a plan to raise almost $800 million in higher taxes.

They say their biggest target would be a new super bracket income tax rate of 8.5 percent for families making over half-a-million dollars a year.

Under the plan; repairs, maintenance and even movie tickets would be subject to sales tax in addition to the overall sales tax increasing a quarter cent.

Republicans call the new taxes recession job killers.

"Their goal must be to get unemployment up to 15 percent, because that's exactly what will happen if we see a huge tax increase," Sen. Phil Berger said.

But Democrats quickly identified programs the new taxes would save, including smaller class sizes for kindergarten through third grade.

However, some Democrats say they don't like the tax plan, because it's not enough.

"I personally will not vote on a budget that only contains $784 million in new revenues to address the needs of the people of this state," Rep. Earline Parmon said.

The House Democrats also proposed higher taxes on tobacco, wine, and beer, but those were voted down. The higher sin taxes would have raised $155 million for the state.

The House says it hopes to pass a budget Thursday and vote on it again after midnight. The new budget for the state starts July 1.

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