Perdue wants higher sales tax for education

Posted January 17, 2012
Updated January 18, 2012

— Gov. Beverly Perdue said Tuesday that her budget proposal for next year will include a temporary sales tax increase to restore education cuts made by the Republican-led General Assembly when they let a similar tax expire last July.

The announcement by Perdue, made during a visit to a Greensboro elementary school, comes four months before the legislature returns to town for its budget-adjusting session. Her statement appears to set the stage for a re-election campaign that could pit Perdue against the new GOP majority on the issue of taxes and education.

"Education is the key to our children's future and to North Carolina's economic future," Perdue said. "Investing in education is central to our ability to attract new jobs and businesses to our state. We owe it to our children and our state to stop these cuts and make education a priority again – a fraction of a penny for progress."

Perdue said her budget for the year starting July 1 would call for restoring three-quarters of the penny sales tax that had been on the books for two years starting in 2009. That would raise the sales tax in most counties from 6.75 percent to 7.5 percent.

For an average family, that would be about $15 per month. It would generate an estimated $750 to $800 million in revenue over the year that the hike would be in place.

"The cuts that the Republican leadership made to the education budget last year in the General Assembly are unnecessary and extreme," Perdue said. "They've done serious damage to the core of North Carolina's educational backbone."

The GOP-led legislature rejected Perdue's proposal last year to set the sales tax at 7.5 percent, instead allowing the full penny to expire on time at a cost of more than $1 billion in lost revenue. The revenue reduction meant Republican budget-writers had to look for additional cuts in education and health care, where nearly 80 percent of the state's $19.7 billion annual budget is allocated.

Reaction mixed over Perdue's plan to hike sales tax for education Reaction mixed over Perdue's plan to hike sales tax for education

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said the governor should expect similar rejection for her proposal in the legislature this time around.

“Obviously, Gov. Perdue’s attempt to nip this economic recovery in the bud is dead on arrival at the General Assembly,” Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “The Democratic primary for governor apparently has devolved into a fight over who can raise the most taxes, spend the most money and grow the biggest government. Gov. Perdue’s latest tax-hike stunt proves she can’t fix this mess she made.”

House Speaker Thom Tillis also released a statement criticizing Perdue's proposal.

"(It) would raise the state portion of the sales tax by an estimated 15 percent, would make it harder for working families to purchase prepared food, clothing, medical supplies and other basic necessities to support an extreme agenda for larger government," Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said. "That is completely unacceptable."

Perdue, however, said she is ready for the fight and that despite what Republicans say, the people and business leaders she has talked to are concerned about the impact of the GOP cuts they've already seen.

"Let me be direct on this issue. I will never turn my back on the children of North Carolina," she said. "I will stand up for public schools, and I will fight any battle that I need to fight for the future of this state, and that's an investment in our children."

Next year, when federal funding runs out, could be worse, and she said she believes voters will back her proposal to avoid deeper cuts.

"Our history is chronicled by our consistent investments in education," she said. "Our people step up and do the right thing for the future, and this is the right thing for North Carolina's future."

Perdue vetoed the two-year budget last June, but a handful of House Democrats joined all GOP lawmakers in both chambers to override her veto and enacted the budget anyway.

Thousands of local education positions were eliminated this past fall, but Perdue and Republican legislators have been in a semantic fight for months over how many of these positions were actually filled and whether the state budget was to blame for them.

Partisans and advocates on both sides of the issues lit up social media after her announcement, with children's advocates and Democrats praising the governor and Republicans pointing out Perdue will have to run again as someone who is redoubling her efforts to get a tax increase passed.

"These dollars could restore hundreds of millions in cuts to classrooms, adequately fund our state’s Medicaid program, serve all eligible children in our state’s nationally-recognized pre-kindergarten program, partially restore cuts to Smart Start and reduce the cost of accessing the courts," Jeff Shaw, spokesman for the North Carolina Justice Center, said in a statement. "This would change the direction set forth in last year’s final budget, which put state investment at the lowest level in 40 years."

"Gov. Perdue often chooses silence on controversial issues like the criminal scandals involving her campaign and administration, but she apparently can’t bite her tongue when the subject matter involves her desire to raise taxes," Scott Laster, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, said in a statement. "We don’t have to read her lips when we can simply hear her re-election slogan now: Perdue 2012 For more … taxes.'”


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  • Danny22 Jan 26, 2012

    Money is not the answer to the problems in education. I see a lot of things that could be cut. But Admin always start cuts with the classroom teacher rather than the add-ons because of politics.

  • NC Dawg Jan 26, 2012

    Public education is not the answer. Give parents a choice when it comes to educating our children. I don't want higher sales taxes when they won't do any good for public education (only fueling the monster it is) AND because my child will be in a private school. Vouchers! Give hard working parents a tax BREAK for private education tuition.

  • belovedsparrow Jan 26, 2012

    I was under the impression that the Education Lottery was to be for Education. I'm all for giving raises to the teachers based on merrit. I'm just sick of being taxed out the wazzoo when I honestly believe that all that our "Leaders" need to do is to better manage the money that they already bleed us dry to get. I honestly do not feel represented by any of our elected officials. I guess if you don't vote with the majority though you might as well just accept that your interests are out the window.

  • Jan 20, 2012

    Just maybe when Bev's unelected then North Carolina will be the state it was when I moved here. I see the fraudsters keeping her in office as long as the money pool keeps filling up from our pockets.

  • Plenty Coups Jan 19, 2012

    barbstillkickin-"TAX MAN You said it all. Pay teachers on merit"

    The last time the state had a "merit pay" system, one for EOG test scores, it was abandoned due to lack of funds.

    "My neighbor has been a teacher for five years ... But she does not get any raises because of Purdue "

    Perdue has tried to give teachers raises the last two years though she did initially freeze them. Republicans blocked both attempts. Not once has ANY republican in the last 15 years EVER voted for teacher raises.

    "In the private sector you get a raise if and when you deserve it."

    I agree. Teacher's cannot ask for raises but depend on the Legislature. Sadly, they would rather cut taxes than honor their obligations.

    "Not much incentive to do well when you know you will get the same raises as them."

    Teachers can earn more if they get advanced degrees and certifications. Merit pay would be fine except how do you measure it? Why should the teachers want it if the state doesn't honor its previous promises?

  • barbstillkickin Jan 19, 2012

    TAX MAN You said it all. Pay teachers on merit. My neighbor has been a teacher for five years and she is very good at it to. But she does not get any raises because of Purdue and they only give everyone the same raise whether you deserve it or not. My husband works for this state and his last evaluation he got almost perfect but no raise while this other employee got the worse you can get and if my husband would ever get a raise this other employee would get the same raise. In the private sector you get a raise if and when you deserve it. Merit is a key factor with all state employees. Not much incentive to do well when you know you will get the same raises as them. This one guy in my husbands department even told my husband once that he was not going to even try to work hard or faster he was getting the same pay either way. Talk about work moral. Sure do miss the good old days when everyone wanted to do good so they could EARN their raises.

  • Vietnam Vet Jan 19, 2012

    And she wonders why her approval and poll numbers are in the toilet??? DUH!!!! She only knows how to spend, raise taxes, and toll roads...

  • barbstillkickin Jan 19, 2012

    I only have one word for Purdue. ( RESIGN RESIGN RESIGN)

  • wildcat Jan 19, 2012

    Come on, Pat McCrory..!

    We don't need McCrory as governor. Keep looking he is right here in NC.

  • Dick Jan 19, 2012

    Come on, Pat McCrory..!