Archived Opinion

It’s time to reverse this regressive course North Carolina is headed down

By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

My wife and I moved here from Florida because we wanted to live in a state that valued its people, its environment, and its future as much as North Carolina did. We knew this would mean paying a state income tax, but we considered the value we would be getting in return.

In light of the radical Republican ravages in Raleigh, we’re beginning to feel like the victims of a bait-and-switch game. It’s demoralizing to see the schools and universities cut so savagely, the vendetta against teachers, regulations slashed for the greater prosperity of developers. We left Florida to get away from all that.

Let’s be real. A state prospers when it invests in education. It suffers when politicians prefer to squander the money on trickle-down tax rewards for the rich.

That’s what Pat McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor, is proposing. He says, with a straight face, that he wants to make North Carolina’s taxes more like those of Florida and Tennessee. He could scarcely have picked worse examples. Florida ranks second, Tennessee fourth, in the extent to which taxes fall harder on the poor than the rich.

According to data from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, North Carolina at present is nearly even-handed in that regard. State and local taxes take roughly nine cents out of every household dollar in every income group except for the wealthiest, where it ranges about a penny less.

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But if North Carolina’s taxes were like Florida’s, the poorest would pay five times as much as the richest, whose share would be cut by more than half. Florida’s middle class taxpayers get off lighter than the poor, but not nearly so much as the rich.

Moreover, it would draw free-loaders like ants to a picnic, just as Florida does. We don’t need tax dodgers like Rush Limbaugh and O. J. Simpson. A healthy state income tax is the best defense against parasites.

McCrory’s scheme is class warfare on steroids.

When Art Pope pours millions into some super Pac on McCrory’s behalf, you’ll know why.

Martin A. Dyckman lives in Waynesville and has written several books on Florida politics. His most recent, Reubin O’D Askew and the Golden Age of Florida Politics, is now in print and available from the University Press of Florida, through Amazon, or at your local booksellers – among them Blue Ridge Books in Waynesville. His earlier books include Floridian of His Century: The Courage of Governor LeRoy Collins, and A Most Disorderly Court: Scandal and Reform in the Florida Judiciary.


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