Under the Dome

Dome: In other news, NC Senate gives final approval to tax bill

Staff writersJuly 3, 2013 

Don’t worry if you missed it, but the state Senate gave final approval to a major tax bill. The controversial abortion vote eclipsed the far-reaching measure to cut income taxes and restrict government spending.

Democratic Sen. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville provided the lone point of debate before the vote Wednesday. He said he opposed the first tax bill the Senate approved and now this new one, saying Republicans “put a little lipstick on it.”

“You are taxing the middle class and giving tax cuts to the rich,” he said, exasperated but knowing the outcome was settled.

The Republican-dominated chamber approved it 29-14.

The bill trims personal income taxes to a flat 5.75 percent and gradually eliminates corporate taxes. A legislative analysis showed that wealthy taxpayers will receive the bulk of the tax break. Republicans dispute that, saying the bill will help spur job creation.

One Republican opposed was Sen. Bob Rucho of Charlotte, who wanted a much more robust bill. He said the latest version of House Bill 998 didn’t represent tax reform.

“Cutting the corporate tax rate to zero is not the solution to our economic problems,” he said in a statement. “Real comprehensive tax reform requires everyone to pay their fair share toward the efficient operation of state government.”

The bill faces an uncertain future in the House. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory also is not yet on board.

What ethics question?

McCrory is appearing in a new public service announcement, apparently avoiding a state prohibition on public officials appearing in such spots by having the announcement produced and aired for free.

McCrory stars in a televised PSA about the importance of private well water testing, an issue highlighted by recent media reports about contaminated wells across the state.

A provision in the State Government Ethics Act prohibits the spending of state dollars for any advertisement or PSA that contains a covered person’s name, picture or voice, except during a state or national emergency and “only if the announcement is reasonably necessary to the covered person’s official function.”

McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo said no state or federal dollars were used to produce the PSA, and that television stations airing it are doing so for free. The 30-second spot was produced at no charge by WNCN-TV. Genardo formerly worked at that station as a reporter and anchor. The station is airing the spot and working with other Media General-owned and NBC affiliates in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro and Greenville to broadcast it in those markets, according to a news release from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Genardo said the spot would be shared with any station in the North Carolina media market.

In favor of lower taxes

A new state survey shows strong support for the idea of tax reform and for lower taxes.

A poll conducted for The Civitas institute, a Raleigh-based conservative advocacy group, found that 69 percent of those surveyed thought North Carolina’s tax system needed to be reformed, while only 23 percent thought the tax system was working fine.

The most support (41 percent) was for reforming personal income taxes followed by 30 percent who thought business and corporate taxes should be reformed. The poll of 600 North Carolina registered voters was conducted June 18-19 by National Research Inc. of Holmdel, N.J. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Staff writers Patrick Gannon, John Frank and Rob Christensen

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