In the most recent Civitas Poll, 66 percent of North Carolinians support a constitutional amendment to cap the state income tax at 5.5 percent. In the poll, 13 percent were opposed to the measure while 21 percent were unsure. The current cap sits at 10 percent.
While the new personal income tax rate for 2019 is 5.25 percent, this is a positive first step that empowers North Carolinians to protect and secure their property from irresponsible or wasteful spending. Afterall, one of the main reasons constitutional government is implemented is to prevent runaway power and protect property from plunder.
The proposal is initiated through Senate Bill 75. To amend the state constitution it must be approved by the voters.
One of my favorite books on state government is “The Last Hayride” by John Maginnis. It’s not a parable of virtue about state government in Louisiana, but quite the opposite. The book chronicles the political antics and corruption of former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards, or “Fast Eddie,” just one of his many nicknames. After it was all said and done, Edwards ended up doing a lot of time in federal prison.
It’s a comical tale but you can also find many warnings about deficit spending and bloated public pensions. The lessons aren’t just about the illegal graft and cronyism that plague many state governments. It’s a warning too against the kind of government that feeds off its productive tax base, while its appetite simultaneously grows.
An April Wall Street Journal op-ed by economists Steven Moore and Art Laffer predict that 800,000 will flee New York and California over the next three years because of high taxes. Of course, this has been going on for some time now, people fleeing high tax states where spending is out of control because of lack discipline by state legislatures and a lack of any courage to tackle bloated public pensions. At this time, migration patterns are reversing from descendants of the population who fled the Dust Bowl for California.
States that have their fiscal house in order are reaping the benefits, all the more if a state can virtually guarantee no increase in taxes. We often forget too that debt is a tax increase.
We should continually ask “what is the purpose of government?” One of the reasons we have a national debt in excess of $21 trillion is we no longer understand that question on the federal level. We’ve moved too far from our foundational document or roadmap, the U.S. Constitution.
It’s a great idea to reinforce lower taxes in our state constitution and to remind people that government can only do so much. By limiting taxes we place limits on government, powerfully reminding them that their sphere is limited and our power over them is not.