In his latest love letter to government largess, Fitzsimon over at Policy Watch sounds awfully defensive trying to justify the explosive growth of North Carolina’s state government. Apparently, he believes the General Assembly has done such an outstanding job of governing that they deserve a raise of 20% over the last two years. Of course, this "raise" is actually the GA’s way of telling themselves they spend every penny of our tax dollars so wisely they deserve more of it. First, he feels it necessary to justify the GA’s spending of the "surplus":
Much of the ($1.4 billion) surplus is considered one-time money that may not be there next year.
Okay, fine. But why not return these self-described "overcollections" to the taxpayers? This marks the fourth straight year of budget surpluses – totaling nearly $3.5 billion. These overcollections amount to roughly $1,600 for a family of four. And let’s not forget the thousands of new and better jobs that could have been created with an additional $3.5 billion pumped into NC’s economy – jobs that would largely go to those most in need. Instead of economic opportunity and a chance at independence for the poor, "progressives" will choose bigger government and bureaucratic dependency every time.
Fitzsimon goes on to summarize North Carolina’s tax burden:
Another important number about the state budget comes from the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. A July report from the Center using U.S. Census Data found that as a percentage of personal income, North Carolina’s total state and local taxes in the period from 2000-2005 were at the same level as they were in 1990s.
So in his mind, the tax burden is summed as follows: "it hasn’t gotten worse, so it can’t be that bad." A closer look at the data contradicts this sentiment, however. According to the Tax Foundation of Washington DC (perhaps the nation’s largest clearinghouse of tax data), NC’s average state/local tax burden of the 90’s was 9.93 percent of income. From 2000-05, it was 10.15 – a mild increase to be sure, but certainly not "the same level." Nevermind the inherent bias of the data by comparing a whole decade comprised largely of economic growth to a five year span dominated by recession.
Furthermore, let’s look at some more recent data. Under Gov. Easley’s tenure, the state/local tax burden increased from 10% of personal income in 2000 to 11% in 2007; which translates into a 10 percent increase in the share of our income going to taxes.
Furthermore, NC has climbed to the 19th highest state/local tax burden in the nation – and highest in the Southeast. This is up from 36th highest in 2000. In short, NC has passed a whopping 17 states in tax burden under the current governor. Compare this to our rankings (dating back to 1970) prior to Gov. Easley. The previous high ranking was only 28. According to Fitzsimon:
Hardly sounds like the state’s taxes are out of line.
What "line" might that be?