The governor was not specific about whether the entire penny would go to the state or if it would be split with counties. A spokesperson for Easley says he wants to leave options open for lawmakers.
At Great Harvest Bread Company, shopper Diane Hilliker says she would not mind a penny tax, but she would like to see it sliced down the middle.
"I think it should be split between the counties and the state, because counties need money," said Hilliker.
Cumberland County is one of several counties hoping for a local option 1-cent sales tax. The penny tax could bring $17 million a year to aid a county budget crisis, according to County Commissioner Billy King.
Even the idea of a half-cent tax does not bode well for Cumberland schools, says Board of Education Member Michael Boose, who worries the tax would not give the county enough money to spread it around.
"I'm optimistic, but realistically we are likely to get close to nothing," said Boose.
The North Carolina Association of County Commissioners says it could support a half-cent sales tax for counties, in exchange for the state keeping its reimbursements.