Perdue Displays Fiscal Courage
It won't go anywhere in the legislature. It will hurt her at election time. But Gov. Beverly Perdue did the right thing this week. What she did might sound like political suicide, but it was an act of courage. She called for an increase of three-quarters of a cent in the state sales tax - and this in the current toxic atmosphere when anyone who lets out a peep about any tax hike of any kind at any level can count on getting clobbered by every tea party or anti-government organization across the broad right end of the partisan spectrum.
It is not as if Perdue is seeking anything new, as such. The sales tax level she is asking for was already there. But rather than allow it to stay in place, the Republicans who gained control of the General Assembly last year were determined to let it expire, no matter what happened.
And a lot did. From preschool classrooms to graduate programs at the state's great universities, educational programs have suffered a fiscal hit of unprecedented magnitude as a result of the dramatic drop-off in state funding. The relatively modest sales-tax adjustment Perdue is seeking, which most of us would hardly notice, would restore a desperately needed $850 million a year to the state's gutted budget.
Her opponents will happily use this proposal against Perdue - and to good effect, no doubt. At this point in our economic history, most people have had to tighten their belts, and no one relishes new taxes, no matter how modest. But Perdue is to be commended for taking a stand reminiscent of North Carolina's once-proud tradition of "education governors."
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