Under the Dome

Rally at legislature backs sales tax shift

A proposed shift in how sales tax revenues are distributed among counties drew support from several House Democrats Wednesday.

They spoke at a rally outside the Legislative Building, organized by Senate Majority Leader and bill sponsor Harry Brown. The event came one day after his proposal passed the Senate and headed to the House with an unclear fate.

Currently, the majority of sales tax revenue in each county stays where the sale occurred. The proposed formula would split revenues, with half staying in the county where the sale took place and half distributed based on county population. The change would take effect in 2016.

Among the supporters: Rep. Ken Goodman, who leads the moderate, pro-business Main Street Democrats group. “We cannot have a great state if we leave rural North Carolina behind,” the Rockingham Democrat said.

Goodman said he’s working with two fellow rural Democrats – Rep. Ken Waddell of Columbus County and Rep. William Brisson of Bladen County – to round up support in the House.

The plan has attracted strong criticism from urban Republican legislators in the House, some of whom have said it represents a “redistribution of wealth” similar to communism.

Representatives from rural counties, however, disagree. “This is the best thing that’s happened for rural areas since I’ve been up here,” said Brisson, who’s been in the House for more than a decade.

The sales tax shift is drawing plenty of lobbying on both sides. In addition to the local leaders attending Brown’s rally, leaders from towns and counties that would see less revenue under the plan were also at the Legislative Building Wednesday to make their case to House members.

Many of the opponents are part of the newly formed “Alliance For A Prosperous North Carolina,” which sent a letter to legislators outlining their concerns.