Under the Dome

Perdue's position on taxes continues to evolve

July 26, 2009 

Before Gov. Beverly Perdue torpedoed legislators' tax plan that included a 2 percent surcharge on income tax bills, she had talked a good bit about taxes. Here's a rundown of what she has said on the topic, going back to her campaign for governor last fall.

October 2008: "I don't believe you can raise taxes in an economy with folks struggling the way they are," Perdue, the candidate, said.

March 17, 2009: Proposes a budget that includes raising the state cigarette tax from 35 cents per pack to $1 per pack and adding a 5 percent surcharge on alcohol sales.

June 4: After state revenue declined sharply and the House proposed deep cuts to education and other state services, Perdue said: "I think we cannot do what we have to do as a people on cuts alone. As to the mix of revenue, I am seriously looking at all the options."

June 17: Asks the legislature to come up with between $1 billion and $1.5 billion in new taxes. She stopped short of saying which taxes should be raised but noted that she had previously recommended raising taxes on cigarettes and alcohol.

June 30: Says it is costing taxpayers $5 million every day they do not have a budget after July 1. "I need the General Assembly to step up and come to a consensus." Then she added: "I don't care which plan it is."

July 2: A Perdue spokeswoman clarified Perdue's June 30 remarks. "It's not so much that she does not care which taxes. She supports the idea of sales, high income, [sales tax on] services and, of course, she originally proposed the sin taxes [on tobacco and alcohol]. She understands that there could be a combination of solutions from the two chambers that could get us where we need to be."

July 7: Calls for a temporary 1 cent sales tax increase that would expire Sept. 30, 2010. She also proposes an income tax surcharge on a person earning more than $500,000 per year and couples filing jointly earning more than $1 million. It would end after two years. When asked why voters should trust that the taxes would be temporary, Perdue said, "Because I'm the governor."

July 23: Calls for the legislature to come up with another budget. Said plan to levy an income tax surcharge on working people is unacceptable. "Who in the world thinks in these trying times for families you can raise income tax for working families and middle-class families?"

Help for an old bridge?

Gene Conti, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, was building bridges last week.

Conti flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of the state's congressional delegation or their staffs to try to get federal stimulus money for the Yadkin River Bridge project. The project seeks to replace a 50-year-old bridge on Interstate 85 near Salisbury.

Conti also participated in an event held by Duke University to recognize alumni of the university's Sanford School of Public Policy.

In total, the trip cost the state about $610, including plane tickets, hotel room and taxi fares.

Reforming annexation

A bill meant to reform annexation was passed by the state House.

The bill would place a greater burden on cities and towns that want to annex land against the property owner's will. It would require municipalities to prove they can afford to provide services to the newly annexed area and require officials to only annex what they have the money to support.

The bill allows property owners who are being annexed against their will to force a referendum if they collect enough signatures.

So-called "involuntary" or "forced" annexations allow municipalities to manage growth. Supporters say those who live just outside a city should have to pay for the benefits they enjoy.

Opponents say forced annexation gives the government power to tax citizens who have no say or vote in the process.

The bill, which offers something for everyone in the debate to dislike, now heads to the Senate, where there is less enthusiasm for passing it this session.

By staff writers Rob Christensen, Benjamin Niolet, Lynn Bonner and Kevin Kiley.

rob.christensen@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4532

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