Jun 18th - 12:25 pm
Do big tax cuts and closing some some sales tax loopholes equal comprehensive tax reform? That seems to be the question of the moment in Raleigh.
Sen. Bob Rucho, who, last week, quit his Finance co-chairman post, said he did not believe the latest Senate plan was comprehensive because it failed to tackle complete sales tax reform.
You have probably heard the arguments over the past year. We have a 1930s tax system that was built around the sale of goods. More than 80 years later we are now a service-oriented economy. In other words, we don’t buy as many tangible goods — we buy services like lawn care, lawyer visits, etc.
For months, we have heard that argument from Republicans. Rucho wanted to completely reform it by taxing more than 130 services and very few exemptions. Other legislatures have tried to reform the system but failed because it’s a political challenge to say the least.
Would you vote for someone that raised the tax on your groceries or prescription drugs? Granted, you get a nice income tax cut but you can just imagine those Democratic consultants salivating over the potential campaign ads against Rucho and other Republicans. Not to mention the political ads that were already airing from the Realtors Association (Rucho’s plan eliminated the state mortgage interest deduction).
Sen. Phil Berger decided that plan was no longer an option because of the political ramifications and created a new plan released a week ago today. That’s why Rucho quit his Finance post.
The new plan closes several loopholes, eventually eliminates the corporate income tax and cuts the personal income tax to a flat 5.4 percent next year. It will also cost $4.4 billion in funding for the state over five years because the sales tax is not broadened to cover services like Rucho’s original plan.
Fast forward to yesterday and my chance to sit down with Gov. Pat McCrory to ask him if he believes these most recent plans are still tax reform.
None of the new plans under consideration broaden the sales tax extensively and none of the plans are revenue neutral. McCrory told me he still prefers revenue neutral, but is that his end game in negotiations with the House and Senate?
“That’s one of the end games,” McCrory said.
So, back to the question of whether or not this is indeed true comprehensive tax reform.
“Oh it is tax reform, in fact we’re rewarding productivity,” McCrory said. “We’re rewarding capital investment. We’re rewarding making things and building things and innovating things. This is not a tax cut, this is tax reform. This is major reform if we can lower the income tax, be competitive with our neighboring states and also a portion of our corporate or franchise tax, then I think we’ll have a positive impact on creating jobs in the long run.
“This is reforming the tax system now,” McCrory continued. “We’re going to be closing some loopholes, which includes some loopholes in the sales tax which people get a refund on at the expense of other taxpayers and I think we need to reform that. There’s a lot of inequity and there’s a lot of loopholes in the system that has to be closed and it’s very confusing to try and explain our tax code to individuals and businesses.”
But with total Republican control of the legislature and executive branches, why not do complete, comprehensive tax reform now? Who knows if they will ever have this much political clout again, right?
“First of all, I don’t believe in radical reform, because that brings about uncertainty of gosh when’s it going to happen again,” McCrory said. “I’m a very strategic person. I’m a very pragmatic person too. So, I’m implementing tax reform in a very strategic way that gives businesses confidence and you don’t do that by just tipping over the boat. You do that by making sure the boats moving straight. “
The governor would not elaborate, but said there are things about the House and Senate plan he does not like. He also made a point to say he anticipates more compromise and he will be a part of the discussion.
That discussion will ramp up although most of it will happen behind closed doors now as the House, Senate and governor try to negotiate a final deal.
- Tim Boyum
Jun 18th - 11:39 am
House Speaker Thom Tillis has launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate, running against incumbent Kay Hagan, and the Democrats are already hitting Tillis on special interest ties.
A news website, specialinterestthom.com, launched Tuesday by the NC Democratic Party. Posts on the website highlight Tillis’ ties to the sweepstakes and the payday lending lobbies, and
“Thom Tillis got the nickname ‘the special interest speaker’ the old-fashioned way: he earned it,” said Ben Ray, a spokesman for the Democratic Party. “He’s slashed unemployment insurance, rejected health care for 500,000 North Carolinians, ended the Earned Income Tax Credit, solicited contributions from lobbyists, and repeatedly concealed the identity of special interest donors to his campaign–all while ignoring job creation and the economy.”
Public Policy Polling shows Tillis isn’t the leading potential GOP candidate, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, who represents the 5th District, is. PPP’s latest poll, released Tuesday morning, said that Foxx is the “preferred Senate candidate of moderate Republicans in North Carolina.” (Read results here.)
Foxx hasn’t said if she will run, but she’s in a group of potential Republican candidates that include her colleague in the House, Renee Ellmers, NC Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, the Rev. Mark Harris and former Ambassador Jim Cain, writes the AP’s Gary Robertson.
Jun 18th - 10:08 am
SOUTHERN PINES—Funeral arrangements have been announced for former Gov. Jim Holshouser.
He passed away Monday after several years of declining health. Holshouser was elected the state’s first Republican governor of the 20th Century in 1972, a position he held for one term.
He was also a longtime member of the UNC Board of Governors.
“He was a man that came in with almost no backing in the legislature. Nobody in state government that knew him but able to bridge gaps with people and make things happen,” said Republican consultant Ballard Everett.
Visitation will be held at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Southern Pines on Thursday, from 6 until 8:30 p.m.
A funeral at the church takes place Friday at 1 p.m.
Jun 17th - 8:37 pm
On Capital Tonight: Gov. Pat McCrory talks with Tim Boyum about tax reform and budget negotiations, and, we remember the life of former Gov. Jim Holshouser, the first Republican to be elected chief executive in the 20th Century. Watch the full episode here.
Jun 17th - 6:51 pm
GREENSBORO — For many consumers, the tax free weekend in August is like a Christmas shopping spree. But this may be the last year shoppers can take advantage of the savings on everything from clothes to computers.
The laundry list of back-to-school supplies many families will face in a few short months can quickly get expensive. The tax free weekend helps ease some of that financial burden and when the first weekend of August rolls around, the stores are packed.
“They put everything on sale for the school supplies,” shopper Cheryl Wyrick said. “Definitely good savings. Then on top of that you don’t have the tax. It’s a wonderful thing.”
And retailers like Target feel a nice boost in sales.
“The whole weekend it drives around 20 to 25 percent in incremental sales,” assistant store manager Jarrett Dunston said.
But if the state Senate passes the current tax bill, this would be the last year for that tax break.
Last year, the North Carolina Department of Revenue estimated the state lost $13.6 million in tax revenue during the sales tax holiday weekend.
Lawmakers said those are dollars the state can’t afford to lose.
Yet, many shoppers wait for that discount to make their higher-end purchases.
“If you’re buying a very large item, you can actually get quite a bit of savings,” shopper Amanda Boothby said. “So when you get a computer or something like that, of course it’s probably a little more worth it.”
But other customers don’t think the savings are worth dealing with the crowds.
“When I look in the paper and see the kind of deals they have, it doesn’t really seem like a big savings to me,” shopper Sherry Gibson said. “Not enough to pull me in.”
Retailers said they may not see the usual spike in sales, but families will still have to buy those new school supplies.
“I believe shoppers would still shop, but I don’t believe retailers would see the large crowds that they usually see during the tax free holiday weekend,” Dunston said.
The Energy Star tax holiday on major appliances is also on the chopping block.
Lawmakers are expected to vote on the bill Tuesday. Then it will be up for the House to decide.
- Amanda McKenzie
Jun 17th - 5:10 pm
Before he became North Carolina’s longest-serving governor, Jim Hunt served as lieutenant governor under Gov. Jim Holshouser. The two served together and, after each left the Governor’s Mansion, they worked together on shared passions.
Reporter Andy Mattison spoke with the former governor about his friend:
I think Gov. Holshouser values most were people – sometimes we called it the human capital of North Carolina. He knew that the way you build the economy and have good jobs for people — and equal opportunity for all people, because he believed in that – was to have education for everyone.
And he believed we needed to invest in that. We needed, in particular, to have wonderful teachers, to pay them well, to start children early in Smart Start and kindergarten and he was, in every way, a great human leader of North Carolina.
On his legacies
I well recall two big things that he did, three in fact: One was starting public kindergartens. I helped him with that. I’d campaigned on that, as he had. Second was raising teacher pay very significantly in North Carolina, and third was standing for and pushing for the Coastal Management Act to protect the coast of North Carolina, and to have things built on them that would make them ugly and not fun for people to go to the beach for.
On working in a bi-partisan manner
He was a great unifier. He was a strong Republican, he believed in his party. Even more than that, he believed in people working in a bi-partisan way to move North Carolina forward. He was a bi-partisan kind of leader and it was my joy to work with him in that way.
Jun 17th - 4:27 pm
Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval numbers are slipping and the General Assembly remains unpopular.
Public Policy Polling said Monday that only 20 percent of voters approve of the job the General Assembly is doing; with 56 percent disapproving. Not surprising, Democrats (10/64) and independents (20/63) are very unhappy with the legislature, but Republicans (36/40) also have a negative view, despite their party being in power.
McCrory’s approval numbers sloping downward, with 45 percent approving of the job he’s doing, and 39 percent disapproving. That’s down 10 percent in May.
Voters also are not thrilled about Republican legislative proposals:
- 66 percent oppose allowing guns on school and college properties and eliminating gun permits;
- 48 percent oppose banning selling Tesla electric cars in North Carolina;
- 68 percent oppose raising interest rates on consumer finance loans up to $4,000 to 30 percent.
Read the full results here.
Jun 17th - 2:10 pm
North Carolina politicians reacted to the death of former Gov. Jim Holshouser.
Gov. Pat McCrory
“James Holshouser was more than a friend and mentor, he was a genuine leader. His passing is not only a loss for the state of North Carolina, but for the countless number of people who were personally touched by his guidance and kindness. Ann and I will have the Holshouser family in our prayers His counsel was invaluable. Compassion was the foundation of Governor Holshouser’s life. He was a champion of education. He made health care available in counties that didn’t have doctors. And he provided historic professional opportunities to women and minorities. North Carolina is a better place because of his leadership and heart.”
House Speaker Thom Tillis
“One of the greatest privileges of my political career has been the opportunity to develop a personal friendship with Gov. James Holshouser. I treasure the many times we spent together discussing his passion – the education of young North Carolinians. Gov. Holshouser was an expert at building relationships with people of all backgrounds and political persuasions. His success was directly linked to his kind and decent demeanor, and the manner in which he defined statesmanship. Even as his health failed him in later years, his service to North Carolina never stopped. Today our state lost one of its greatest sons, but Gov. James Holshouser will be remembered and respected for generations to come.”
Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger
“As North Carolina’s first Republican governor in the 20th century, Gov. Holshouser made an indelible mark on our state’s history. He dedicated his life to serving others, and his legacy of strengthening our state’s public schools and universities continues to ensure bright futures for our students. Gov. Holshouser was a dear friend and trusted adviser, and I will miss him greatly.”
Sen. Kay Hagan
“I am sad to learn that former Governor Jim Holshouser has died. Jim was such a good man, and I’ve long admired his ability to work with Democrats and Republicans. His moderate, consensus-building approach made him an effective leader who brought health clinics to underserved areas, bolstered our public education system and backed important legislation to protect our environment. Jim served during a time of great change in our nation. As our state and our country worked to fulfill our ideals as a land of opportunity for all, he appointed African-Americans to key positions and named the first woman to a cabinet-level position. Jim leaves behind many contributions to North Carolina, and my thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s family during this difficult time.”
Sen. Richard Burr
“I was terribly sad to hear of Gov. Jim Holshouser’s passing. Gov. Holshouser was one of the kindest and most sincere people to ever become involved in North Carolina politics. Staying true to his mountain roots, Jim would always shoot you straight and stay true to his word. His lifelong dedication to service to our state was defined by many outstanding accomplishments that made North Carolina a better place to live. To those of us who knew him personally, Jim was a trusted counselor, leader, and, most importantly, a great friend. Today, all North Carolinians have lost one of the true statesmen of our time.”
NC Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope
“I am so saddened to hear that Governor Holshouser has passed away. He was a dear friend of our family, a committed and visionary leader, and a true servant to the people of North Carolina. Gov. Holshouser will be dearly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
UNC President Tom Ross
“For more than four decades—as a state legislator, as North Carolina’s governor, as an elected member of the UNC Board of Governors, and as a long-term board member emeritus—Jim Holshouser was actively involved in the development and evolution of the University of North Carolina. On any issue of long-term importance to the University or higher education in this state, his counsel was sought out and highly valued. He was seen as the elder statesman of the Board of Governors, one with a gift for simply, but eloquently getting to the heart of a complicated issue, bringing together diverse points of view, and guiding his colleagues to consensus or resolution. Throughout his long and storied career, Governor Holshouser personified the true meaning of statesmanship and servant leadership, and our University had no greater friend or better role model. He will be deeply missed. “
Jun 17th - 1:02 pm
James Holshouser, the first Republican governor elected in the 20th Century, died Monday in Pinehurst after a period of declining health.
He was 78.
Holshouser rode into office in the 1972 election on the wave of President Richard Nixon’s landslide election. He was the first Republican governor elected since 1896.
He focused on lower taxes, judicial reform, modernizing the state’s transportation system and broadening foreign trade. Working with UNC President Bill Friday, Holshouser helped to consolidate the state universities into what is known now as the University of North Carolina.
Holshouser had been ill recently, and he died on his 52nd wedding anniversary.
“We are grateful … for the many friends and family who have so lovingly supported him and our family through the last several months. Most of all, we are grateful for his example of wisdom, integrity, love and servant leadership,” his daughter Ginny said, in a statement.
He was born Oct. 8, 1934 to James Holshouser, a U.S. Attorney, and Virginia Dayvault Holshouser, a nurse. He described his family as “Lincoln Republicans” – moderate in nature. He grew up in Boone and got his first taste of politics as senior class president at Appalachian High School.
Holshouser attended Davidson College, then UNC-Chapel Hill for law school. He returned to Boone to practice law with his father in 1960 and got active in Republican politics.
He married Patricia Hollingsworth in 1961. His daughter, Virginia, is born in 1963, and named after her grandmother.
In 1962, Holshouser was elected to the state House as part of a growing Republican Party in North Carolina. At that time, the Democrats has a grip on state government for nearly 100 years. He rose quickly through the legislative ranks, becoming House Minority Leader in 1965 and state party chairman in 1966, the youngest at age 31.
He fought against taxes on tobacco, soft drinks and gasoline in the legislature as he continued his rise in Republican politics.
In 1972, he announced his candidacy for governor.
“Our state stands on the threshold of greatness, and yet so much needs to be done,” he said during his announcement. “I recognize the awesome responsibility and enormous task in the job I seek. I know that no man can do it alone. At the same time, I also know that the people in North Carolina have a spirit equal to any challenge.”
Holshouser ran against Skipper Bowles, a Democrat, former commerce secretary under Gov. Terrry Sanford, and father of Erskine Bowles, who would later serve as UNC president.
Holshouser won office by a narrow margin. At age 38, Holshouser was the youngest chief executive since the 19th Century. Democrat Jim Hunt, who would go on to serve four terms as governor, was elected lieutenant governor.
Holhouser worked with the Democrats to modernize North Carolina’s infrastructure and open the Tar Heel State’s doors to international trade. He lead a trade mission to Moscow, capital of the then-Soviet Union, in 1973.
He also worked with UNC President Bill Friday to shepherd through the consolidation of the state’s public universities into the modern University of North Carolina, creating the Board of Governors to administer the system. He also expanded public school kindergarten programs statewide.
“If you are going to have a full life, education makes so much difference; not just in terms of your ability to make a living, but also in terms of your ability to see all of what life has to offer,” Holshouser told UNC-TV, as part of its “Biographical Conversations” series.
He created health clinics to serve rural areas where local physicians weren’t available. He also appointed the first woman to a Cabinet-level position. Grace Rohrer served as his Commissioner of the Department of Art, History and Culture.
Holshouser was a moderate Republican, which that left him vulnerable in a party that was fighting amongst itself. Conservatives, who rallied behind Sen. Jesse Helms, were not open to compromise, while Holshouser worked with Democrats on policy. That, along with fallout from the Watergate scandal, lead to his decision not to run again in 1976.
“We were very, very tired by the end of 1976,” he told UNC-TV. “And we were ready for a break from politics, ready to sort of get out of the limelight and back in the private sector because I never really anticipated a political career.
After he left office in 1977, Holshouser moved to Southern Pines to practice law, creating a law firm with former Gov. Terry Sanford.
The General Assembly appointed him to the UNC Board of Governors in 1979, where he served two, eight-year terms, and later as a member emeritus.
He championed higher education in his post-gubernatorial career – serving on boards at Davidson College and Lees-McRae College, lead the board of trustees at St. Andrews Presbyterian College and served on the board of advisors of Elon University Law School.
Because of his dedication to higher education, Appalachian State University and UNC-Chapel Hill endowed professorships in his name.
Holshouser suffered from kidney disease for years and, in 1986, had a kidney transplant, after which he promoted organ donation and sat on the board of United Network for Organ Sharing. He also worked on the campaigns of Jim Martin and Ronald Reagan, and served on Gov. Pat McCrory’s transition team.
Holshouser has recently been ill. He didn’t attend McCrory’s inauguration in January because he was recovering from pneumonia.
McCrory visited Holshouser over the weekend to pay his respects.
“James Holshouser was more than a friend and mentor, he was a genuine leader,” McCrory said in a statement. “His passing is not only a loss for the state of North Carolina, but for the countless number of people who were personally touched by his guidance and kindness.”
- Ben McNeely
Jun 17th - 10:37 am
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law requiring prospective voters to prove they are citizens, as voting rights advocates wait for a ruling on the fate of the Voting Rights Act.
In a 7-2 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that states cannot require prospective voters to show proof of citizenship on federal voter registration forms.
The decision strikes down an Arizona law requiring applicants to attach photocopies of passports or birth certificates to federal forms that ask prospective voters to swear, under penalty of perjury, that they are citizens.
The court ruled that federal law prohibits Arizona from seeking additional information.
Justice Antonin Scalia writes, “Arizona’s reading would permit a state to demand of federal form applicants every additional piece of information the State requires on its state-specific form. If that is so, the federal form ceases to perform any meaningful function.”
“The voting rights community is very pleased and happy with the decision that came out in this case,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery of the Brennan Center for Justice.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito disagreed with the majority’s opinion, arguing that states can go beyond the federal government’s requirements.
According to Thomas, “It matters not whether the United States has specified one way in which it believes Arizona might be able to verify citizenship; Arizona has the independent constitutional authority to verify citizenship in the way it deems necessary.”
Legal experts who agree with Thomas point out that states still have other options.
“Arizona also has a state registration form, and the court ruled for that state form they can have a proof of citizenship requirement,” said Hans von Spakovsky of The Heritage Foundation. “Also, the court said this doesn’t prevent the state from saying someone is ineligible to register if they got information in their possession that shows they’re not qualified.”
The decision in this case comes as voting rights advocates are waiting for the court to issue a big opinion on the constitutionality of a key part of the Voting Rights Act.
Legal scholars say the cases are entirely different. A decision in the Voting Rights case could be announced as early as Thursday.
This case could also end up playing a role in the debate over immigration reform. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced over Twitter on Monday that he will push for an amendment to the immigration bill that would allow states to require ID for federal voter registration forms.
- Michael Scotto