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Sales Tax Referendum Back On?

Jul 21, 2014   //   by Christian Hine   //   Carolinas, Char-Meck Beat, Christian Hine  //  11 Comments

Last week, it was reported HERE that we may have been saved from a referendum fight over increasing the local sales tax.  The NC Senate was looking to pass a bill that would cap local option sales tax at 2.5%.  Since Mecklenburg already charges that, the referendum would essentially be voided. However, due once again to weak kneed GOP wavering, the bill looks like it is getting delayed…for how long is anyone’s guess.

According to THIS ARTICLE in the Charlotte Observer, Republicans are infighting over the wording and scope of the bill.  Local GOP Senator Jeff Tarte said “he would vote against the bill as it is currently written because it wouldn’t allow Mecklenburg the flexibility to raise the sales tax for education.”

Once again NC Republicans don’t seem willing to do what’s necessary to use their majority status to prevent tax hikes and excessive spending by local governments.  You’ll remember it was a Republican bill last year that allowed Charlotte to essentially give the Carolina Panthers 87.5 million taxpayer dollars, again citing a desire for “local control”.

There is something to be said about local control, which is Tarte’s argument, and perhaps a greater discussion does need to be held on the totality of power sharing between state and local government.  For now though, as a Dillon Rule state, local governments in NC derive their power and authority only through the state.  If, as Tarte and others apparently seek, we started dismantling the current setup in favor of home rule, it opens up a much bigger can of worms than simply allowing for a local sales tax referendum, or a misguided giveaway to a billionaire sports team owner.   It would lead ultimately to a dramatic change in the way state government operates.

At this time, we shouldn’t arbitrarily choose when to allow “local control” and when not to…as in the airport fiasco. The fact of the matter is, the GOP controlled General Assembly has the power to stop a tax hike on Mecklenburg shoppers in it’s tracks.  I hope they have the fortitude to do so.


  • Cities should decide what their own sales tax policies should be, not a bunch of thugs in Raleigh.

    • So where do you choose to draw the line on this? If cities and counties should be, for lack of a better word, the sovereign entity, should the state stop funding education altogether so that the individual counties can set their own priorities? What if a county wants to move to an all voucher system…would you agree it’s their right to do so?

      • Christian, are you really asking Zon to make a considered answer to a legitimate question brought on by one of his remarks? If he does, it will be the first time and, I would suspect, he has a ghost writer doing it for him.

        • LOL. I hope I do get an answer. This is a worthwhile discussion where I think both sides will find themselves on a slippery slope. There are some issues where the home vs Dillon rule argument can be muddied. I don’t think either side wants it 100% one way or the other. That said, since the current rules *allow* the state to stop the tax hike, and I want to *stop* the tax hike, I’m naturally in favor of them doing so.
          If the roles were reversed and the state was trying to impose a sales tax on the county to fund “education”, would the same people supporting home rule now suddenly change their mind if they lived in a county that didn’t want to comply? Or would they try to get the state to force those “tax rejecting anti-child heathens” to comply?

          • It’s not some zero sum game. Local and state governments in North Carolina used to work together to solve problems. When a local government had a need the state did not want to fund, the local government had the option to raise money through other channels with approval from the state. Local governments do have to answer to their constituencies. Now some lunatics want to code into the state constitution a cap on local sales tax.

            No, cities are not sovereign and no one is saying that. But after years of saying ‘make decisions locally’ the wing nuts that now control the state senate suddenly need their one-size-fits-all ideology to apply to everyone. Besides, it’s hypocritical. Less than a year after they raised state sales taxes to give the wealthiest another income tax cut, now the want to not only hamstring local decisions but also cut the general funds going back to cities. It’s lunacy by any definition. Sure it makes sense to Lewis, though.

          • Actually taxes are a zero sum game. There is only so much which can be taken from the people no matter the tax rates. Russia even found that out. At certain high rates the people just don’t pay or don’t have it to pay.

            Also, the state constitution of NC makes the cities and counties part of the state government. They, unlike in Va are not independent entities.

            To go on and argue that the R’s did something and use that for an excuse for the locals to do something is, as always, stretching it. If the locals want more taxes they can raise property taxes without a referendum. So why do they want a referendum on sales taxes, which, pay attention reader, will affect the poor people more than a property tax increase would? The answer is they’re trying to buy the votes of teachers and their sycophants.

            Zon worries about hamstringing local government. What of the federal government regulations doing the same to state and local? Will you stand up and be counted as against those abuses also? Or is it, as always with you, whatever feels good today?

      • Zon doesn’t realize that using the dialectic he’s one of the wealthy.

        So for 100 years State and Local governments were all controlled by Democrats who divided up the pie among themselves. Now your suprised the local Democrats are unhappy they aren’t getting the loot they used to?

        I for one am for letting the Board of County Comissioners and City council raise that sales tax up to 9 or 10 % ‘for the teachers'(we all know that like with the ‘education’ lottery they will use the money however they choose) then see how many people shop in Charlotte.

  • @ Lewis,

    When you have more than platitudes and nonsense from the wing nut echo chamber, try a meaningful response. Your post has all the meaning and intellect of a box of rocks.

  • Behind all the rhetoric on teacher pay is the assumption that state and local governments need more money. More money means that these governments have eliminated all waste and unnecessary expenditures. We know that’s a joke.
    So why not cut funds to the government by making teachers exempt from all local and state taxes? No state income tax, sales tax, property tax, automobile tax, even dog license fees will be waived. My taxes don’t go up and teachers get a raise

    • I like it. The fact of the matter is, it all boils down to that old saying: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Anything we can do to recruit the best teachers will pay exponential dividends.

  • What I’d like to know is who at the state DOT hires the engineer who designs traffic circles as if the only vehicles on the road are small cars. The ones I see at interstate highway intersections can’t handle trucks.

    Probably NC state grads on internship. CERTAINLY the PROFESSIONALS at DOT wouldn’t do such a thing.

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