What might be the biggest threat to the State of North Carolina’s economic future is called Senate Bill 75. A very non-threatening moniker for a referendum to amend our state constitution by permanently freezing the state’s current income tax rate. Voters will have the opportunity to oppose this debacle in November.
How will this permanent change to the constitution affect you?
Given that our state’s tax rates are already some of the lowest in the country; our ability to meet the needs of our citizens is severely limited. Working families and their communities are experiencing overcrowded and underfunded schools, decreasing access to health care and an absence of the infrastructure needed to spur job growth. County and city municipalities will need to pick up the slack by raising the money to fund things previously covered by the state budget.
The proposed change to the state Constitution would likely lead to increases in taxes paid by working North Carolinians. Additional sales taxes on goods and services and property tax increases are already in the works in Moore County. Higher excise taxes, fines and fees will surely follow. These revenue options are needed because the low income tax rate that would be locked-in doesn’t allow the state to meet current needs and we will fall further behind as the needs of our state continue to expand.
Changing the state constitution would tie the hands of all future lawmakers. That means all the leaders you elect in November will be unable to invest in the things you put them there to fix. It means that all the leaders you ever elect will be unable to solve the unforeseen problems that an uncertain future brings. It means that state emergencies like hurricanes, floods, drought, disease or even war can never be dealt with by state government. It means we can never do better, what we have is as good as it ever gets.
The super-majority Republicans currently possess in our state legislature wants their tax policies to control our lives even after they are voted out of office. But more importantly, they are trying to give their base a reason to turn out and vote. Their candidates are not compelling enough on their own. They require some imaginary call to defend the constitution against the “liberal left.” If the referendum wins voter approval in November, it will take three-fifths of a new legislature and another voter referendum to change it.
This unfettered challenge to democratic principles cannot be allowed to see the light of day. We must search for sense and balance in government, not the fascist-style suppression of opposition and the infernal need to restrict a future in which current leaders might not be in control.