The General Assembly’s own Fiscal Research Division, not a partisan part of the state legislature, has some scary news for Republicans planning their much-advertised “Billion Dollar Middle Class Tax Cut” bill. The division predicts that the tax cuts might well mean that by the budget year beginning July 1, 2021, there would be a $600 million gap between tax revenue and the needed funds for the state budget.
Well, of course. Republicans have cut taxes — mostly for the wealthy and business — over the last few years and offered hold-the-line budgets that invested little new money in programs to help the disadvantaged, or fix the state’s infrastructure needs or invest what’s needed in public schools. No, they’ve instead catered to the wishes of their no-new-taxes supporters in the most conservative wing of their base.
Worst of all they’ve done so during a period of economic comeback, when additional investments could have been made. They’ve also disingenuously credited their tax cuts with bringing back the state’s economy, which is ridiculous. The recovery is more a part of a national bounce-back after the Great Recession that began in 2008-09 and that recovery was in large part the result of policies and investment programs under President Obama and the Federal Reserve.
Now, in response to this prediction from Fiscal Research, Republicans can be expected to dismiss the cautionary and somewhat fearful words. Their fantasies already have started.
State Sen. Jerry Tillman, Randolph County Republican, said the projections aren’t accounting for the economic boom likely to happen because of tax cuts.
“Tax cuts spur more growth. They certainly have in the last six years.”
Other Republicans will sound similar themes as they proceed with their tax cut plan, which will indeed benefit some in the middle class with an expansion of the standard deduction for taxpayers, expanding the zero bracket, and it will cut the individual income tax rate, again. It also will cut the corporate tax rate, again.
Gov. Roy Cooper, who has a more realistic view, says the plan is still too generous to the wealthy and corporations. Cooper believes too much revenue will be lost and that more money should be invested in education. He calls the corporate cut and previous ones what they are: “giveaways” that will “punch a hole” in the budget.
Republicans have been in charge long enough not to look like rank amateurs when it comes to the state budget, but they’re so determined to pander to the wealthy and to big business to the detriment of average people that their budgets look like checkbooks that can’t be balanced.