by Bob Geary
It'll be ugly if you don't push for a tax hike, is the message to Gov. Perdue from Together NC, a coalition of about 120 progressive-minded provider and advocacy organizations. In a letter described by its sponsors as "strongly worded," the coalition said Perdue must abandon her stated position that tax increases are "off my plate" as a means of helping to balance the 2011-12 state budget. Best estimates now are that, without any additional revenues — taxes — spending cuts of $3.7 billion will be needed to balance the budget. That means current spending levels would need to be slashed by about 17 percent.
"Exercise leadership on the budget and reject a job-killing, cuts-only approach," Together NC told Perdue.
“To pave a path to the future, you must take a balanced approach to our state’s fiscal crisis, which includes raising revenue,” the letter said. “And not just any revenue, but revenue solutions that are adequate, stable and fair.”
The full letter is on Together NC's website along with data on what would be cut if state spending were reduced across-the-board by 5%, 10% or 15%.
Perdue will have the first dance with the budget mess when she sends a 2011-12 plan to the General Assembly. But then the legislature takes over, dominated by new Republican majorities in both houses that seemingly are bent on cutting their way to budget balance — no tax hikes now or ever. (!) The GOP majorities are almost big enough — but not quite — to deny Perdue the chance to veto their budget should she choose to. In the House, however, there are just enough Democrats (52 to the GOP's 68) to sustain a Perdue veto IF she issues one and IF the Democrats all hang together. Then, too, perhaps a few Republicans could be found who don't thinking whacking K-12 school budgets or the community colleges or the UNC system is a good idea.
Gonna be quite a year.