Basnight, Black Preview Upcoming Legislative Session
Posted January 16, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — This is shaping up to be one of the more interesting sessions of the General Assembly in years. Hot topics and a cold budget should keep lawmakers on their toes.
Legislators: Show Us the MoneyThe biggest issue is money. There is simply not enough green to go around.
Lawmakers will consider ways to fill the gap. There is talk of raising the gasoline tax 2 cents a gallon to repair and widen roads. There is also an idea to tax your meals locally to help cities and counties beef up their budgets. Legislative leaders are not crazy about either idea.
"That is a tax increase, regardless of whether it goes to the state coffers or local coffers, and then argue who deserves it the most or who needs it," says Sen. Marc Basnight, the President Pro Tem of the N.C. Senate.
Rep. Jim Black, the Speaker of the House, sees a bright side in the tight budget.
"It really is a good opportunity to make government more efficient, because the toughest thing to do is to pass a tax increase when there are not many people out there who have the appetite to do that," he says. More Issues Fill the Legislative AgendaLottery decisions face the General Assembly this year, and the pressure is growing since South Carolina began their lottery. Also on the agenda is a moratorium on the death penalty.
"A full-blown moratorium? I would not think that will succeed at all," Basnight says.
However, the legislature's No. 1 priority is teacher pay.
"I'm committed to the goal of having North Carolina No. 1 in the nation by the year 2002," Black says.
The session begins next Wednesday at 12 p.m.