Tax Shift NC


Y’all know that your North Carolina state government is about to lower taxes for the wealthy and big corporate interests while raising taxes for the poor and middle class, right? They’re also going to privatize Medicaid, which will reduce services for the poor. They’re also slashing child care – 31,000 kids are expected to be cut. They’re also doing away with environmental protections. They’re also savaging voting rights. Both the Senate and House versions of the budget are a move towards regressive taxation and underfunded services.

More info to come, but know that the folks at the General Assembly are about to send you the bill for their ALEC ambitions. North Carolina is their new laboratory, and we’re the lab rats.


  1. Mim Toffitt says:

    Speaking lab rat to lab rat, would you not agree that the current system is broken?

    What are the Progressive answers? I mean, besides let the IRS target conservative groups and keep building the tax bureaucracy larger and larger.

    I’d love to hear a good idea, if you’ve got a good idea.

  2. Andrew Dahm says:

    Mim, I think the first order of business would be to “de-district” the state in such a way that Charlotte, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Asheville hold a veto-proof 90% majority in both houses of the legislature. This would allow for a carefully-selected cadre of rural reps. A high school diploma or GED would disqualify candidates from these districts from holding office.

    Next, a statewide millage surtax on anyone who emits more than 30 dB for more than 5 seconds moving their trash from the side porch to the curb. This will encourage fitness, and 3-acre residential lots are simply wasteful. Funds from this levy could be used to build sidewalks. Everywhere. I mean everywhere.

    An additional Links Proximity Fee should be imposed on all residences within 1/3 mile of a golf course. Let’s face it – anybody who owns a house overlooking a fairway should have something to complain about, amirite? Proceeds from this tax would fund a fleet of school buses that would drive through the state’s ten wealthiest zip codes (shout out to Biltmore Forest) 24/7, stopping. in. front. of. every. house. with. flashers. on. Buses would be accompanied by state troopers or local law enforcement, with traffic citations and revocation fees earmarked for pavement removal from all gated subdivisions statewide. These newly-naturalized thoroughfares could be used as research plots for the state’s new industrial initiative – peat bog development, the next, best use for exurban shopping malls.

    Finally, all of the state’s airports should be deeded to Ms Beverly Wilson of Wilson, who has diabetes, is a very sweet woman, but her son never writes.

    It’s called economic development.

  3. TJ says:

    Hmmm…Andy, I seem to remember this group of folks who regularly met who went by the name “Occupy.” Of course, they were run off from having a spot where folks could easily find them (for purposes of organizing, OR being arrested)…which, by the way, I was not completely against toward the end of the tent phase.

    Anyway, there’s folks doing a press conference on Monday with a group of faith community leaders. And, I am having discussions with folks about what kind of action might be meaningful, and ALWAYS, there are folks who are in this for the long-haul, who surely would appreciate your involvement.

    What scares me is, with all this maniacal stuff going on, I am starting to understand why the TP folks are so fanatical about holding onto their firearms.
    However, as a person of peace and reconcilliation, I wouldn’t be able to use one.

  4. Mim Toffitt says:

    A moral occupation is still an occupation. I don’t want to be occupied, don’t know about you.

    Andrew, You are just too dammed smart for your own good. If you were on my side I’d have you making policy instead of beer.

  5. TJ says:

    When are the thumbs coming back?

    However, I WILL say that it is necessary to actually have an exchange of ideas, when you can’t just mark a thumb. More time consuming, but, more transparent, yes, transparent…

    Mim, I only want to Occupy where folks can’t or don’t stand for what’s right/desired by the majority.

    Once folks use their voices for real, I feel sort of like Nanny McFee… I’m no longer needed.

  6. Andrew Dahm says:

    But seriously, folks, given the latest kerfuffle over “project (e)x(tortion),” where some behemoth will take over $15MM from local taxpayers and promise not to issue any more threats to leave town for the next 30-40 minutes, I think it’s time to bore everyone to tears with yet another stab at how economic incentives could better conform to the demographics, economic needs, and real marketing strengths of our community, and yield a more diversified, faster-growing base of good-paying manufacturing jobs.

    Currently, folks who rent hotel rooms in Buncombe pay an occupancy tax, which goes to the Tourism Development Authority, which doles out brick-and-mortar grants to businesses that – hopefully – will stimulate still more tourism. Whatever the quibbles with this scheme, supplementing it with a program funded by, say, another 1.5-1.75% in room taxes might be a good idea.

    This program would also be targeted toward tourism, in a way: Development assistance to light manufacturing that people would enjoy driving to Asheville to watch and learn about. Ceramics, fiber arts, woodworking, baking and brewing spring to mind, along with a host of alternative energy applications.

    Program qualification could involve somebody with an existing business or just a business plan and financing doing a dog-and-pony show for a committee, or program organizers could simply do some research and come up with a list of Standard Industrial Classification codes that make sense for Asheville’s resources, infrastructure and workforce.

    Funds derived from this small, separate occupancy tax would:

    Put architectural/engineering firms on retainer to assist enrolled entrepreneurs in navigating the City’s code-and-compliance regime. Having engineers and architects signing off on plans before they’re submitted to the City appreciably expedites buildout and completion of manufacturing plants, and significantly lowers costs for business owners. Simply giving business startups this kind of muscle in the regulatory equation would really help Asheville have a clear marketing advantage viz other jurisdictions when it comes to attracting startups.

    Provide payroll assistance to enrolled businesses that pay good wages. Every employer in North Carolina has to pay into the Unemployment Insurance fund, and wages in excess of $19.5K/yr or so are exempt from premiums. In other words, a database exists right now that tells us who pays real money to their employees. A portion of room tax proceeds could be rebated to enrolled businesses based on the portion of their payroll that exceeds the living wage.

    For example, four McDonald’s employees making 7.75 an hour, or 15.6K/yr, or no wages in excess of the living wage floor, would not qualify for any wage assistance from the program. On the other hand, a glass company with 4 skilled employees making $36K/yr each would be paying $68K/yr in exempt wages, and would qualify for a rebate on these wages.

    An approach like this complements current EDC and TDA efforts. It could be run in a way that’s largely free of bureaucratic discretion/favoritism, and it does not involve any data collection that employers aren’t already required to perform.

    Small employers tend to aggregate, leading to development in ancillary industries, like specialized marketing, supply and technical services. There are a lot of downstream jobs in Asheville right now because of our brewing thing.

    Small employers need as much or more help as corporate behemoths, but they don’t issue half as many threats. They do have problems with regulatory compliance, and the City has an interest in a coherent, efficient permitting process that leads to the ultimate goal – safe, healthy workplaces.

    Y’all should check this out: This film’s showing during Asheville Beer Week, and it’s about beer and economics. Sadly, I’ll miss it, because I’ll be in Birmingham, arranging the export of thousands of Alabamadollars to our fair city.

    I still think peat moss has legs, though.

  7. I’ve gotta lay off the crack. Apparently beer makes you really smart.

  8. Andrew Dahm says:

    Shoulda seen me before the beer.

  9. TJ says:

    Wow. Which band of beer?

    So, even homeless folks renting a room on Tunnel Rd: help our tourism ecomy, or, just the fancy smancy ones downtown?

    The beer makes you smart? Maybe that’s why Moffitt wants to control the water…he can’t have local folks seeing through his schemes. Too much water=too much beer.

  10. Andrew Dahm says:

    TJ, it had never occurred to me that homeless folks pay into the tourism development fund, but that is in fact the case. The TDA benefits from the room tax; given all of the city’s financial problems, it does seem that a revenue stream from room taxes would be a sensible solution.

    I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Raleigh isn’t going to look favorably on anything that Council has direct control over. Doing a tax like I’m describing to create a fairly non-discretionary funding source for business development (i.e., a setup for giving money to startups that doesn’t involve Council) might actually fly.

    Ultimately, business development generates a lot of property tax revenue, and could improve the City’s finances over the long term. So don’t expect Moffitt and Ramsey to get behind it. They’re in the “drown it in a bucket” camp.