Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How would YOU solve N.C.'s budget problem?

Yesterday's blog about Republican Pat McCrory's criticism of a Democratic tax proposal elicited a lot of comments. All of which beg the question: So what would you do?

Here's the deal. The state has a $4.6 billion plus budget shortfall. That amounts to more than 20% of the budget.

House Democrats have a $784 million tax package that includes hikes in the sales tax and income taxes on people earning more than $200,000. The Senate budget would raise taxes by $580 million. Both budgets -- along with the governor's -- would slash spending by billions.

Teachers, including my son's high school baseball coach, are already getting laid off. Prisons and museums would close. College tuition's going up. Other cuts are being felt across the state.

So what would you do?

Don't want taxes? Take a look at the House budget and let me know where you'd cut. For suggestions from the liberal side, go to the N.C. Justice Center budget reports. For a more conservative take, check out the John Locke Foundation's alternative budget.

Want to minimize cuts? Then how would you find some more money? What taxes would you raise? Or would you do what the Senate might do, extend the lost of services that could be taxed?

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I would go over ever single line item spending element. I would stop spending money on everything that was not essential. Meaning things like 8 Million Dollars to do engineering work for a trolley line we have no business implementing. Every single pork project that does not have to do with feeding or caring for people would be removed. Every redundant government based process monster job would be cancelled. I would then cancel every back office deal that gives every company in the state a break for moving here and make them pay their fair share of the cost for living here in the state of North Carolina. The last thing that I would do is raise the taxes any higher than they already are. I would then pass a law for our State Legislator that they can no longer spend more money than they take in with taxes. Any bond, borrowing money or leveraging debt would be illegal. If you don’t have the money you cannot spend it.

Anonymous said...

Taxes to raise: Sales, alchohol/tobacco, hospitality tax (hotel/rental cars, airport, etc.)
Taxes to cut: Income, Capital Gains, Inheritance.
I would also look to legalize casino gambling during the 2010 legislative session. Allow 4 casino licenses in the state. Like Mississippi, every casino MUST be on a body of water (Lake Norman, Wylie, Jordan, Cape Fear River, Neuse River, etc) and tax the heck out of it.

Anonymous said...

This is the result of multiple years of inadequate leadership in Raleigh, starting with Mike Easley and into the Perdue regime. Any project funding wildlife conservation, suspend it. Any project providing subsidies to industries looking to move to NC, stop them. All state funded mass transit studies, suspended them.

Corruption appears to have been the norm for a few years in NC with Easley traveling the world on our coin, to Perdue building a massive highway project in her home county, to Black that was building a teapot museum in his home county. It's time for change in NC and it apppears that another party needs to hold the reigns for a while to get something done right!

Anonymous said...

Oh my GOD it would be rediculously easy to balance any government budget-- IF you took out the politicians and lobbying groups and corporate interests.

That said, letting any parent who KNOWS what a true budget is, would work. I would immediately and summarily kill any and all projects that were unnecessary- and common sense dictates what is necessary. I would immediately reduce ridiculous salaries for the elite educational positions-- for example why are we paying the superintendent almost 300,000 a year? All managerial-level government and social service jobs would have a payscale tied to PERFORMANCE and how much money they saved as opposed to spent.

I would enact a law that any politician who desires to go into office for this state give up half of their campaign warchests to the state.

I could go on and on...bottom line is raising TAXes does nothing with all the WASTEFUL SPENDING our government does. Gotta cut the WASTE.

Anonymous said...

Your piece is flawed, if not down right untruthful. Would you please list the "billions" that have already been cut from the budget, other than salaries for teachers and state workers? Are you saying that the 2009-2010 budget is "billions" less than the 2008-2009 budget? I'm from Missouri, SHOW ME!

Anonymous said...

How about starting by looking at the 2006 budget which I understand was the same amount as they are looking at having this year.??? Just three years ago and we have draconian cuts to make?? Where have the increases been since then?

In my house, when income goes down, we cut spending. That is what should happen.

Anonymous said...

I think the big key here is WASTE. Add to that, the special interest groups and lobbyists. Families are forced to budget every single day. Yes, I might want to stop at Starbucks for the biggest special coffee I can find - but, no, I can't because either I can't afford it, or there is something else I need or want to spend that money on. If it's a choice between making my mortgage payment and going on a vacation, I do what has to be done before what I want to do. You don't spend money you don't have. You don't promise your kids things that you can't afford to give them. Would it make my kids happy to have digital cable and 200 channels? Probably. Is that the wisest use of those funds? Probably not. So, guess what? They don't have it.
Like I said - families make these decisions every day. Some are hard and some aren't. Some are heartbreaking and some aren't. Do I want to grill some filet mignon tonight? Yes, I do. Will I have chicken instead? Yes, I will. Don't spend money you don't have. And don't spend other people's money that you don't have either. Make some hard choices and use some common sense.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that there are still people that believe that every government budget is just "filled to the brim with pork"! These Flat-Earth repoblicans worship at the altar of "no taxes" even if it means our fellow citizens are hurt and damaged to a great degree. If they had ANY knowledge of what they speak, they would know all budgets are at the bare bones now! A Democracy requires its citizens to pay the bills and freedom DOES cost! Just like every person and family, bills MUST be paid. To solve NC's budget problem, cut back if you must but improve the tax system by making it more fair and just. Raise taxes on the ones who can afford it and make the corporations pay their fair share.

Anonymous said...

It's frustrating to me when people make comments that show that they're not educated on the issues. The budget this post deals with is the NC state budget - not Charlotte. The money to fund the street car isn't a state function. It was part of the City of Charlotte's budget.

I do not support budget cuts that impact classrooms. I do not support raising the student/teacher ratio. Part of the increases in expenditures in education are related to unfunded mandates from the Federal No Child Left Behind. Reduce testing and preserve instruction.

Teachers work hard and deserve good benefits becuase we know that they aren't paid enough. Do not cut benefits to pensions or health care.

Increase taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. Levy a tax on convenience foods - take out and drive thru. Add a tax on mixed drinks. Add taxes on services like hair cuts and massages.

Remove the tax on groceries.

Remove the tax on clothing items under $75 and increase the tax on items above $100 to make up the difference.

Raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year.

Add a parking fee at State Parks.

Raise fees on traffic violations and car registration.

Tax internet service and cable TV. Remove or reduce the tax on energy and natural gas.

Just some thoughts...

Anonymous said...

I think you need to look at the state's budget just like your at home. You see how much is coming opposed to what you must pay out. There is no way of getting around it. In order to raise more revenue, taxes will need to be part of the new budget. I think raising taxes on alcohol, cigarettes, and soft drinks are a start. Also, including a tax on services that had been exempt.

Yes, there will be cuts, but you cannot do that to the ones that are the most vunerable, the poor, and working poor. I don't have an answer, but I feel that there is no way to balance the budget without some tax revenues. Look at it this way, at least we are not in the UK where they have a 40% income tax on salaries. We have no room to complain. Americans are spoiled.

Anonymous said...

Don't even think about raising taxes but cut spending! If they need help I can BALANCE their budget in 1 day. I balance my own,KNOW WHAT THE HELL I CAN DO WITHOUT, set prioritieS, USE CREDT, BUT ONLY IF CASH READILY AVAILBLE! FIRE HALF THE DEADWOOD; THEY SURE AS HELL WON'T BE MISSED, CUT BLOATED PENSIONS AND ROLLS ROYCE HEALTH CARE!

Anonymous said...

To the imbecele wanting to raise the d--- DEATH TAX; IT IS EVIDENT YOU HAVE NOT ONE D-- CENT AND ARE JEALOUS AS HELL OVER THE ONES WHO SACRIFICED FOR THEIR OWN FAMILIES AND NOT FOR SOME ENVIOUS MORON LIKE YOU TO SQUANDER.,EAT your lazy heart out for I will leaVE THIS MARXIST STATE FOR ONES WITHOUT THE D--M DEATH TAX AND NO INCOME TAX.

Anonymous said...

End welfare. After a few thousand starve in the dark,the rest will find work or leave the state.

Anonymous said...

THIS WOULD BE VERY EASY. YOU CUT
EVERY PERSON THAT IS GETTING A STATE, GOVERNMENT OR COUNTY SALARY
BY 25%. STARTING WITH THE GOVERNORS SALARY AND WORKING IT DOWN TO THE JANITOR'S SALARY. HOWEVER, THE PERSONS IN CHARGE OF THIS MONEY IS SO GREEDY: THEY WOULD NOT CUT THEIR OWN SALARIES.
GREED BY EVERYONE IS WHAT HAS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IN THE FINICIAL MESS THAT IT IS IN TODAY.
IF ANYONE DOES NOT WANT THEIR SALARY CUT: ELIMINATE THEIR JOB
AND LET THEM SEE WHAT IT IS LIKE
NOT TO HAVE ONE. CONTRACT PERSONS OR ANYONE.

Anonymous said...

Cut Spending. And yes, it is that simple and that essential.

Anonymous said...

Legalize marijuana and tax it like crazy - get the non-violent criminals out of our jails so they stop costing us money and start paying some taxes.

Anonymous said...

Cut spending and lower taxes. I don't understand why this is such a difficult process.

Anonymous said...

I won't get a raise this year. I won't get a bonus this year. My company is not matching my 401-K this year (6% of salary) On top of that, I have a rental property that the neighborhood rents have dropped that I will have to meet to rent it. I know I will have to make do with 30% income this year. Higher taxes will be more salt on the wounds. The state budget must be cut by 20%. All "nice to have" things must be cut so that important projects can proceed. Maybe school teachers can take a temporary salary reduction so more teachers can stay on board. Raising taxes is the WORST thing they can do.

Anonymous said...

By God I agree with the joker at 03:14! What happens in a recession while the rest of us struggle?, those dirty animals on welfare still get full Food Stamp allotments, free healthcare, free housing, free lunch for their illegitimate children, free healthcare for their illegitimate children, free utilities, free phones, free cable, free clothes, etc. It's time that scum felt the brunt of this thing like the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

Here's what I would do...Cancel any project, program that does not provide essential services to humans, i.e., food, water, shelter. ALL educational lottery money goes to education and no raiding the til! Cut work hours by 4 hours a week. Cancel all bonuses. Limit welfare to only those that are physically disabled and willingly submit to a drug screen. Those who are still warm and breathing can get a job. Cut cleaning of all state offices to one day a week. Empty your own trashcan. Limit "landscaping" to lawn mowing only and once every two weeks. Cancel the flowers, catering, parties, delivery couriers, overnight delivery for only extreme cases. Limit office supplies to the bare essentials and develop a catalog of approved items. Order only what you need for 1-2 weeks. Got a toner you can't use? Send an inhouse email to see if someone else can use it. Adjust the thermostat by 2 degrees. Lower the speed limit to 55 state wide. No new bricks and mortar, paint, etc. Cancel subscriptions and professional memberships and leave payment up to the individual. Cancel all travel. No non-essential printing, graphics design, and return to black & white rather than color. Shall I go on????

The Freeholder said...

Let's see...we could:

Does DOT really need new trucks quite so often? I swear I've seen only one DOT employee who was in an older truck in my entire life.

Cut down the size of the staff in the Governor's office and the legislature. I should make the kind of money some of these people do.

Close the unnecessary agencies...Cultural Resources, the Housing Finance Agency of NC, NC Center for Nursing, the dozens of "Baords of This and That". Good grief.

Take the zoo, the aquariums and the museums (maybe the parks as well), lump them into a group of some sort and spin them off. If folks like them as much as they say they do, they'll support them.

Stop giving tax breaks to every business that may want to come to the state. I've heard all the stuff about how much they generate in dollar terms, but I've never been able to get anyone to show their math. I'm not buying it without seeing their work.

Trim the education budgets. They've been off the table for so long that I'm willing to bet there is considerable fat in there somewhere. Find it and cut it out.

I can come up with more; that's just off the cuff.

Anonymous said...

How about this for the people who want to raise taxes; YOU go ahead and implement the tax increase on yourself. And just a quick note to the people who are opposed to tax breaks for large companies as incentives to move here. They do create jobs, and pay employees, who in turn buy things, which gets taxed and people make a living...The math is easy.

Anonymous said...

Taking teachers out of the classroom is not the answer to our budget concerns. Is there waste in education? Yes. Are classroom teachers the waste? No! We are eliminating the most vital link to future generations. We as a country will be paying in taxes many times over down the road on the students that will be affected by the cutting of teachers. I know everybody wants education wants to be run like a business, but you can't run it that way. If that was the case, then we would kick out all of the students who struggled in school. I invite some of you to come and visit our schools and see the many challenges we face.

Anonymous said...

Education cut 5% - 524,760,833.10 I send my children to private school to get a better education and CMS still spends more per child than my two combined. $13 million alone on drop out prevention. I had dropout prevention - it's called PARENTS!
Judicial - Indigent Defense cut 5% 5,526,972.5 Don't break the law - period.
Governor cut 5% - 304,995.45 Belt tightening needs to start at the top.

That is 530,592,801.05 without even trying. Tough cuts, sure. I have to make those cuts in my household due to gasoline, utility and food price increases without any raises for 3+ years. I do not get to raise my salary when I have a shortage. Go through the budget line by line and eliminate ALL projects that can be put off.

Anonymous said...

state tax on internet sales. I have ordered major electronics this year from retailers and not paid taxes!!!

Ghoul said...

Here are some simple solutions:

When the state bids out a contract, THAT IS THE FINAL PRICE! No more of this increases as we go, if the company can't budget for future price increases in steel of copper, then they should not be doing work for the state. If a project is low bid for $25 million, that's the final price, none of this $50 million final price.

Pass a constitutional amendment that forces the state to use special taxes for the specified purpose, i.e. gas tax for roads, lottery for education, alcohol tax for mental health, cigarette tax for healthcare, fishing & hunting licenses for wildlife services. No more dumping all funds in the general budget for Democrats to spend on their pet projects.

Go to a zero dollar funding in the next budget, every director of every service or faction that gets state money must, in writing, justify every dollar thet get. If they can't, or if functions are duplicated, drop the funding. Then remaining funding needs to be concentrated in the 3 areas the state must fund: Education, Criminal Justice, and Roads, in that order. Everything else is a luxury we can do without.

Anonymous said...

"How would YOU solve N.C.'s budget problem?" By being good business oriented people and non-political. Currently there are "Family Values" and "Minority/Underprivileged" and "Religious" sieves that all ideas/money matters/easily accumulated taxes/etc. - have to be strained through. What's left over is an unsustainable tax base that simply will not support the infrastructure of all those "Political" stands by government.
The question is who can afford to give more in taxes and who can afford to be cut from the tax base.

Anonymous said...

Impeach Bev Perdue. Lower Taxes!!!

Anonymous said...

I can solve budget problems for every single state and our federal government. It is SUPREMELY easy to find all the waste out there now, and I'm not talking about pork barrel stuff (though it STILL does exist).

Overnight, I bet I can balance the budget just by applying simple common sense tactics that the majority of "middle class" Americans have to do: go without that which is not essential.

Our governments WASTE BILLIONS of dollars on very stupid things. The proof is out there and easily found. Each representative gets between 2-5 million each year for "discretionary" spending. WTF!!!! On a similar scale, our state and local governments waste just the same.

Our government is run by baboons. Taxing to generate new revenue-- without cutting out all the STUPID spending-- is, well, STUPID. Eliminate welfare if you have a brain and can work, and I don't care if that means pushing a broom somewhere 40 hours a week (maybe you'll not be so fat then too).

The only acceptable tax raises should be those whose incomes are in the stratosphere down to 200,000 a year. I'm sorry, I don't care how creative and special you are, you don't need millions of dollars and 3 jaguars in your garage.

This country is heading for a major civil war, and the creation of a new 3rd party-- I bet it's going to be interesting in the next few years. The only way this will be avoided is if the apathetic masses are able to go back into wal-mart to purchase more LCD tv's. Otherwise the waste will continue and things will get worse until we're all going WITHOUT ANYTHING.

CUT THE FREAKING WASTE, MR/MRS POLITICIAN!!!! YOU DON'T REPRESENT THE COMMON AMERICAN ANYMORE!

Freedom Fighter said...

I wonder why we never talk about the comprehensive annual financial ( reportshttp://www.ncosc.net/financial/ )? Clearly with the 40 or 50 billion in net assets invested in various investments should be yielding enough to pay some bills. I understand markets are down, but many of those assets are fixed. Several states run with no state income tax at all, I believe Texas, Florida, and I know Alaska.
Sure, they have oil and tourists and all the alike, but I think if someone really looked at the books, I mean the balance sheet, they would find more than enough money there. Cash flow statements are usually the best place to look, and or the "budget", but when you have billions of dollars of assets that aren't being considered, we need to take another look! Also, why is the treasury department now investing up to 10 percent of the states budget in commodities, options, and speculative things? Sure, I know they want the yield, and we know where the money goes when they win, back into the big ole fund. But, where does it come from when they lose? Oh yes, another budget short fall...

Anonymous said...

The source of the problem is that our government, on local and national levels, is designed to protect the rich from the poor. THAT must change. THAT is the reason why there is no more money in the kitty. THAT is the reason why they have to keep raising taxes to generate new inflows. When 5% of the people own 95% of the wealth in this country-- SOMETHING IS VERY WRONG WITH THAT.

Doing anything to "fix" the budget will only perpetuate most of the money flowing into people (whether by direct flow or ludicrous salaries and benefits) who are already beyond the wealthy dreams of 95% of Americans.

So say we all.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:53 that doesn't make any sense. On the contrary 5% pay 70% of all taxes. What we need to do is lower taxes for all. Eliminate the income tax. Forget this nonsense of taxing the rich just lower taxes for EVERYBODY!!!!!

Paul said...

To the anonymous who says those at the top of the pay scale should pay more needs to understand that this rolls down to everyone. They are the employers, and this affects all workers in the form of lower pay raises (or cuts) and job loses. The money comes from SOMEWHERE. I am not naive enough to believe they will simply cancel a vacation to pay for this. Corporations, in the same way, simply pass these tax increases on to customers in the form of higher consumer prices. That's economics 101 (in case you were absent that day).

Anonymous said...

TAXATION IS THEFT!!!

Anonymous said...

First adding two kids per classroom is a good idea.

end the golden leaf foundation

end all corp. welfare

end smart start, end more at four

Anonymous said...

First end the federal reserve. Secondly enact the gold standard. Thirdly respect the consitution.

Anonymous said...

Every year that the State faces a budget crisis the first people to be penalized are the state employees. Being an employee of the state I realize that the residents of North Carolina think that we are making a bundle of cash each payday. The truth is that most state employees are some of the lowest paid residents of the state. To balance the budget we must curb the welfare system. If the recipents are not willing to be drug tested at random times then their free check is stopped. There are many deserving recipents of the foodstamp program,SSI ect but the marjority are people to lazy to work. Make the parents start supporting their children and after the 2nd illegimate child you receive no additional funds. In my agency we have one man who has 5 children by different women. He has never paid his support. Sterilization comes to mind. Yes the state government can cut many programs but don't penalize the state workers who get up and go to work each morning just as you do and also have to deal with the deadbeats I listed above. Cutting the welfare and free programs that support these deadbeats who got us into the problem in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Reduce spending, but also reduce taxes. We don't need a nanny state!

Anonymous said...

increase tax on cigarettes and alcohol, impose generic restrictions on medicaid drugs (for heavens sake that seems to me to be a given), get rid of ineffective middle managers in all departments.

Anonymous said...

Tear down DPI and rebuild from the ground up. Move schools to a 4 day week. Increase sales tax 2%. Raise alcohol/tobacco taxes by however much you want to. (Gov. Easley was RIGHT about this. If you can't afford 3 cents on a can of beer, you're probably drinking too much)Cut income tax by 50%. Eliminate state paying for national boards for teachers and raise the supplement from 12% to 15%. and LEGALIZE CASINO GAMBLING.

Anonymous said...

Charge to park in the parking deck at the legislative building, no more giving yourself a raise for lawmakers, quit giving gas mileage for the lawmakers, no personal use of the private jet, no more free lunches in the legislature cafeteria, I don't care who you are, cut out perks for lawmakers, no more trips on taxpayers money, welfare and medicaid recipiants should be made to work if they can, if they can't work they should have to show how they spend their welfare checks, welfare for one child only, cut out benefits for illegals, no more court appointed attorneys. Taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for people that get themselves in trouble. Get rid of the rich lawmakers and put in the middle class. Things would change then. We can definitely balance a budget. The rich don't have to pinch pennies, and they love to waste other people's money.

Anonymous said...

Increase taxes on pet owners. Tax dogs and cats. Impose fines on people who let their dog take a dump on other people's property.

Anonymous said...

Tax newpapers 50%.

MichaelProcton said...

Anon 5:07, it's not that simple. The state has no legal grounds to tax any business not based in the state. All in-state businesses conducting business within that state (i..e shipping to the state they are based) ARE taxed.

Anonymous said...

If they would cut welfare programs just .50 % It would balance the budget for two years. Every time that an election is on going the first thing out of each persons mouth is how they support the children. That means education. What has happened. We are going back ward instead for forward in education , the lowest paying job. Everyone else gets over time in their jobs and the teachers do not. They still work hard to provide for the children they teach. Everyone takes this for granted.

Anonymous said...

why do state employess have to be the ones that take salary cuts. make it fair to all. there are other people that work in nc that are not state workers. where are the pay cuts for these people. Unlike most people think, state employees do not make a lot of money so if cuts are to be made cut a percentage from everyone.