The N.C. Senate had been scheduled to take a vote Wednesday afternoon on a proposed constitutional amendment capping the income tax rate at 5.5 percent.
The amendment would go before voters in November and wouldn’t affect the current rate – which will drop from 5.75 percent to 5.499 percent next year – but would effectively prevent the legislature from raising income taxes. The constitution now includes a maximum rate of 10 percent.
Facing a lengthy agenda Wednesday, Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca dropped the proposal from the calendar, along with several other bills. But while the other bills were rescheduled for Thursday, Apodaca postponed the income tax bill for 10 days – to June 25.
That date is a Saturday, and the legislature rarely holds sessions on weekends. Asked why he postponed the tax legislation, Apodaca said “because we're going to be here that Saturday.” He then walked away from a reporter.
The N.C. Budget and Tax Center, which opposes the cap, speculated on Twitter that the delayed vote means Senate leaders want to “link it to budget negotiations.” Legislative leaders say they hope to wrap up budget talks by the end of the month.
Democrats are opposing the measure, saying it could tie the hands of legislators in a recession and lead to a major sales tax increase. And the state treasurer’s office argues that it could hurt North Carolina’s AAA bond rating.
The proposal has similarities to a proposed Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or TABOR, that passed the Senate last year but didn’t get a vote in the House. That bill would have gone further, capping the income tax at 5 percent and tying annual state spending increases to the rate of population growth and inflation. It’s unclear if House leaders will agree to a tax cap this year.