|Six House Appropriations subcommittees met yesterday afternoon and each presented their portion of the overall budget. There are no tax increases in any of these proposals at this time, which makes for extremely profound cuts across the board. Because of this, some elected officials in Raleigh are discussing the possibility of raising some revenue in the form of a tax increase, including Governor Bev Perdue. Three-quarters of this $18 billion plan (as opposed to the $21.3 billion plan that was approved last year) goes to fund education and health and human services, which, consequently, means that they are facing the deepest cuts. From here, the budget will be heard in a full meeting of the House Appropriations Committee early next week where a great number of amendments are expected to be introduced. Speaker Joe Hackney said this week that he expects a budget to be approved next week. After the House approves their budget proposal, they'll pass it back to the Senate. From there, the two chambers will likely form a joint conference committee to hammer out their different versions of the proposed budget. Click here to read the details of each subcommittee proposal from the NC General Assembly's Fiscal Research Division.
- In a conference call today regarding the House budget and revenue, Rep. Tricia Cotham, (D - Mecklenburg) discussed raising taxes on the "wealthy" to help balance our state's budget. An increased tax on those who make more than $250,000 a year is a tax on small business owners. Most small businesses are not registered as corporations, and therefore do not pay corporate income tax. The revenue from their business is thus required to be reported as personal income tax. Particularly in this economic climate, struggling small business owners should not be overburdened with a tax increase. What the public perceives to be a tax on the wealthy is actually a tax on one of the most vulnerable sectors of our economy. Please contact Rep. Cotham and other members of the Mecklenburg delegation and let them know that you do not support a tax increase on small business.
- Next week, SB 534, the Mandatory Sick Leave bill, is currently scheduled to be heard in Senate Commerce. This bill would require employers to provide up to seven days of paid sick time per year. The Charlotte Chamber opposes this legislation as it would limit flexibility and potentially increase the cost of doing business. Employers in North Carolina know that in order to attract the highest quality workers they need to provide competitive benefits. Employers should be free to decide what those benefits are. Please contact Senate Commerce committee chairs and members to urge them to support North Carolina business, especially in these hard economic times, by opposing this legislation.
In other Raleigh news, SB 200 was approved in a second reading on the House floor on Thursday. This bill, which has already passed the Senate, would put a floor on the current gas tax so the revenue from the gas tax, which ultimately is used to fund roads, will not see a decrease. As it stands, the gas tax has been declared by many experts as a declining source of revenue. At a time when our state's road funding needs are increasingly dire, putting a floor on the gas tax is a step in the right direction.
The bill that would eliminate the waiting period for private clubs, SB 6, passed the House ABC Committee this week. It was re-referred to House Commerce and has already passed the Senate. If approved, this legislation would eliminate the language from the existing statute that requires an establishment that receives 30% or less of its revenue from food, or a "private club," that requires a waiting period for membership. This bill is good for tourism and business in North Carolina.
I will keep you posted as the General Assembly works toward finalizing a budget this session. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns at 704-957-3728 or at email@example.com. Keep yourself updated on the Chamber's public policy activities in the most timely manner by following Natalie English and me on http://www.twitter.com/ under the names cltlobbyist and Voice4BizCLT, respectively.