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.