(Smoky Mountain News) Democratic and Republican candidates squaring off in state races this year offer voters a clear choice on a key philosophical issue gripping North Carolina during the past two years: taxes versus budget cuts.
The Republican-controlled General Assembly cut the state sales tax by 1-cent last year, essentially undoing a sales tax hike put in place by Democrats two years prior. Getting rid of that extra cent meant coming up with $1 billion in budget cuts.
Now, as the election approaches, candidates are in a bitter blame game over whether lower taxes and their accompanying cuts were drastic and short-sighted, or just the boost the economy needed during the recession.
Local Democrats running for state office claim that cutting the sale tax was the wrong move by Republicans and would vote to implement some sort of comparable sales tax if elected. Meanwhile, Republican candidates say it was the right move and any more taxes would be bad for residents and the job market.
The 1-cent sales tax in question had been enacted by a Democratic-controlled legislature in 2009. It was the height of the recession, and the state was facing a $5 billion budget shortfall at the time. The tax was intended to reduce the budget gap and lessen the impact of cuts.
It was billed as a temporary tax, slated to sunset in 2011. But when 2011 rolled around, state lawmakers still faced tough choices over cuts and insufficient revenues.
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