Raleigh, N.C. — The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a package of economic development measures that would shift sales tax distribution in the state away from the urban shopping areas the current formula favors and toward rural areas.
After a rancorous debate Monday night, both sides were ready to re-engage on the rural/urban divide Tuesday.
Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe, said her county would see an 8 percent loss of sales tax revenue under the plan.
"Our cities are not our adversaries. They're are our partner in economic recovery," Van Duyn argued. "We need to quit picking winners and losers, and we need to work together."
But Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said Buncombe County's economy is thriving, and its unemployment rate is consistently low – unlike many of the counties the tax shift would help.
"I just can’t sit here and listen to how we’ve destroyed this and that and everything else. We’re on the right path. We’re seeing results, but we have to take everyone with us," Apodaca countered. "Let’s look after everyone in North Carolina."
Sen. Dan Blue. D-Wake, pointed out that not all of the counties that would lose revenue under the plan are prosperous. Some, like Avery, Macon and Brunswick counties, are struggling with employment and revenue as it is.
But Sen. Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick, said he supports the shift because, "It’s the right thing to do for all of North Carolina.
"We should stop bickering about whose ox is being gored," he told the Senate. "Everyone’s going to win."
"We tried to find something that everybody could win just a little bit on," sponsor Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, agreed.
The measure now moves to the House, where leaders have said they will not support any plan to redistribute county sales tax revenues. Gov. Pat McCrory has also threatened to veto any such plan.