The N.C. Democratic Party held a news conference Tuesday to blame Gov. Pat McCrory for tax changes they say are causing many middle class families to pay more.
McCrory was the prime target Tuesday as the 2016 gubernatorial campaign continues to heat up. Democrats hope to tie the governor to the smaller tax returns some residents are receiving as the April 15 filing deadline approaches.
“The results of Gov. McCrory and the legislature’s tax plan are coming in,” N.C. Democratic Party chairwoman Patsy Keever said. “Gov. McCrory has truly raised taxes on the entire middle-class family.”
Keever was joined by House Democratic Leader Larry Hall, Rep. Susan Fisher of Asheville and Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham. They criticized McCrory and Republican legislators for eliminating the earned income tax credit and other credits that benefited low-income and middle-class taxpayers.
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The GOP tax reform, approved in 2013, lowered the overall tax rate by eliminating a number of exemptions and tax breaks.
“The middle class is paying for the tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations,” Hall said. “We cannot allow (Republicans) to escape the truth of what they have done.”
In addition to income tax changes, Democrats also criticized legislation to change the state’s gas tax rate. The bill immediately dropped the tax by 1.5 cents a gallon – stopping a larger tax cut that would have cost the state $800 million in transportation money over the next four years.
The tax will remain at 36 cents through December, before falling to 35 cents in January and 34 cents in July 2016.
Democrats said Tuesday that the measure is effectively a tax hike further burdening the middle class. But many in their own party voted for the bill: 15 House Democrats and eight of 15 Senate Democrats.
“Clearly we’re going to have disagreements in our caucus,” Woodard said.
Meanwhile, the N.C. Republican Party is using social media to blast Attorney General Roy Cooper, McCrory’s expected Democratic opponent in 2016. And in a statement issued after the Democrats’ news conference, party director Todd Poole said the minority party is mischaracterizing the tax changes.
“Gov. McCrory signed historic tax reform into law which puts more money into the pocketbooks of working North Carolinians as well as small businesses, but the North Carolina Democrat Party continues to launch attacks based on the same old liberal talking points,” Poole said. “The fact is the Democrat Party wants to bring North Carolina back to the high tax, big government system that has failed North Carolina in the past.”