Taxes, budget cuts will be subjects of protests

June 1, 2009 

It will be a big week of debate about taxes, cuts and solutions to the state's budget mess.

On Tuesday, 80 groups will join at the legislature to tell lawmakers they favor "a balanced approach" of tax increases and strategic cuts to solve the state's estimated $4billion shortfall. Calling itself Together NC, the coalition of nonprofits, service providers and groups such as the N.C. Justice Center, will hold a news conference at 10:30 a.m. on Jones Street, outside the legislature.

On Wednesday, conservative media personalities and low tax groups will gather at the legislature for a "Take Back Our State Tea Party." The 4:30 p.m. event on Halifax Mall will feature radio hosts and an appearance by Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, who gained fame during last year's presidential race. The event is aimed at protesting proposed tax increases on things such as music downloads, alcohol and cigarettes.

Professors are weighing in, too. Over the weekend, the N.C. Conference of the American Association of University Professors sent letters to House members saying a proposed 11 percent cut to state university budgets would be devastating to higher education and economic recovery in the state.

"North Carolina does have another choice," the professors wrote. "That choice involves instituting a mix of progressive tax hikes along with spending cuts."

Huckabee fundraisers

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak at several events in the state this month.

The one-time Republican presidential candidate will hold events primarily to benefit a conservative advocacy group he runs, the Vertical Politics Institute, and his political action committee, Huck PAC.

First, Huckabee will speak in Kings Mountain at a breakfast fundraiser for the 10th District GOP. The breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. on June 11 at the H. Lawrence Patrick Senior Life and Conference Center. Tickets are $25.

Later that day, he will speak at a lunchtime event at the Charlotte City Club. The cost for the private roundtable discussion is $500 per person and comes with a photograph with Huckabee.

He'll be the guest of a private reception immediately afterward. The cost of that event is $250 per person or $500 per couple.

Huckabee's last major appearance was at a get-out-the-vote rally in Raleigh and Charlotte in October. He was a speaker at last year's state Republican Party convention, where he notably helped save former state Sen. Robert Pittenger from choking.

'No name' might be OK

Gary Pearce is banking on a dark horse.

In a post on the Talking About Politics blog, the longtime Democratic consultant said a "no-name" candidate may be better in next year's Senate race.

"Nothing matters less in the 2010 Senate race than name recognition today," he wrote. "In fact, zero name recognition today can be a good thing tomorrow. You get to write your own story. If you can raise the money."

He cites John Edwards and Kay Hagan as "no-name" candidates who ended up winning, and Erskine Bowles as a "big-name" candidate who lost.

Little sticking with Fetzer

George Little says he's not interested in state GOP chairmanship.

The former Republican gubernatorial candidate's name had been thrown around by some insiders as a possible last-minute candidate.

"If it had been 10 years ago, I might have done it," he said.

Little said he has committed to former Raleigh Mayor Tom Fetzer's campaign.

60% like public funding

State voters like public financing of judicial campaigns, according to a new poll.

Democratic firm Public Policy Polling has found that 60 percent of voters favor full public funding for candidates for the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

Twenty-four percent had an unfavorable opinion, and 16 percent were not sure.

However, 48 percent said that they are unsure about whether the law has helped to curb corruption in the judicial system, as opposed to only 28 percent who say it has done so and 24 percent who say it hasn't.

PPP also found that 48 percent would be in favor of expanding a public finance program to candidates running for the Council of State, a group of statewide elected officials including the Auditor and Insurance Commissioner.

The poll was conducted May 19 to 21 and surveyed 510 North Carolina voters. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.3 percentage points.

ryan.teague.beckwith@newsobserver.com or 919-812-4955

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