MEDIA RELEASE: Coalition praises lawmakers for showing courage on budget, urges unity

Coalition praises lawmakers for showing courage on budget, urges unity
The 100-plus members of the Together NC Coalition sent legislators a letter yesterday thanking them for taking steps to preserve public investments
 
RALEIGH (July 8, 2009) - North Carolina lawmakers have made great strides toward a budget that works for everyone, prominent coalition working on state budget issues told legislators yesterday. Now, it's time to come together and cross the finish line.

Together NC, a coalition composed of more than 100 groups representing millions of North Carolinians, sent a letter to lawmakers today thanking them for their work to preserve public investments in the state's future. These investments are crucial to guiding North Carolina out of recession and protecting working families across the state.

Both the House and Senate revenue plans would raise substantial revenue to avoid the most devastating cuts to public investments, the letter notes. Additionally, the conference budget currently includes more revenue than was proposed in either budget proposal to date.  However, the House and Senate have reached a stalemate in their negotiations over a revenue package.  Together NC urged state lawmakers to consider merging the competing plans and the letter shares ideas of how best to do that.

"Lawmakers need to come to an agreement on how to raise revenue to ensure we are able to preserve education, health care, and other vital public investments," said Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina's Children and one of the Together NC coalition's organizers. "Just as our coalition of diverse groups has come together, we believe it's now time for lawmakers to unite and pass a forward-thinking budget."

The full text of the letter follows below.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Jeff Shaw, communications director, North Carolina Justice Center, 919.863.2402 (office) 503.551.3615 (mobile); Meg Gray Wiehe, Together NC/NC Justice Center, 919.856.3192; Rob Thompson, executive director, Covenant with North Carolina's Children, 919.866.3280 (office)  919.649.2449 (mobile).



July 7, 2009

Dear State Leader,

On behalf of the more than 100 organizations that belong to the Together NC coalition, thank you for the countless hours of work you and your colleagues have spent to craft a responsible state budget in the midst of an unprecedented decline in public revenues.
We are so grateful that both the House and Senate revenue plans would raise substantial revenue to avoid the most devastating cuts to public investments. Moreover, we are pleased to hear that the conference budget currently includes more revenue than was proposed in either budget proposal to date. In fact, the tax proposals from each chamber, taken together, include all the elements necessary to create a revenue package that will enable North Carolina to make it through the recession without harming the most vulnerable citizens and without undoing the state's long-term investments in education and public safety. In addition, such a plan could give the state a more stable and fair tax system for the future.
As the coalition who has been with you all along - calling for not only a balanced approach that includes additional revenues but also for revenue solutions that make the state tax system more fair and stable over the long term - Together NC wants to be helpful to you in these final days.
To that end we would like to share with you our ideas for how the two competing revenue plans could be most effectively merged. Overall, we support the concepts put forward in the Senate Finance Committee's draft proposal of broadening the base of the sales tax and personal income tax substantially and lowering some tax rates. We also strongly support the House's plan to make the personal income tax more progressive by adding an additional tax bracket affecting top income-earners and their proposal to close corporate income tax loopholes. More specifically, we support the following:
  • On the personal income tax, adopt the Senate's base-broadening reform, but graft on at least one of the House's new proposed upper income brackets.
  • On the sales tax, we support the Senate's base-broadening of the sales tax on services coupled with a rate reduction, which will improve our long-term revenue health.
  • On business taxes, enact all of the changes proposed by the two chambers, including the House's proposal to adopt mandatory combined reporting.
  • To lessen the regressive impacts of some of the changes on people of modest income, lawmakers should supplement the compromise by doubling the state earned income tax credit (EITC) to 10% and considering adoption of an alternative refundable credit for older residents on fixed incomes who do not benefit from the EITC.
Through our town hall meetings around the state, our calls to citizens to take action for a responsible budget, and our rally at the Legislative Building that drew more than 500 participants we are doing all we can to inform this debate and help you make the wisest decisions on behalf of your constituents and the entire state. We hope that you will give full consideration to the proposals outlined above.
Yours truly,
The 100+ organizations that make up TOGETHER North Carolina