Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Politics of the Budget Deal

Well I'll tell you I don't envy the task North Carolina legislators had in crafting a budget deal one little bit. That's a tough job. But if their goal was to put together a package that would do the least damage politically I don't think they accomplished it.

Our polling last month showed that when you ask voters straight up, 51% said the budget should be balanced solely by spending cuts while 32% said it should be a mixture of spending cuts and new taxes.

But when we asked voters about some specific tax proposals they were a lot more supportive. For instance 60% favored raising income taxes just on those who make more than $200,000. 53% supported a one dollar per pack increase in the cigarette tax and 60% supported a 5% surcharge on alcohol purchases.

There was public support for those things because they don't affect the average North Carolinian- most of us don't make more than 200k and most of us don't smoke.

Here's how I think most voters in the state would look at the budget crisis:

Other people's taxes raised>massive spending cuts>my taxes being raised

In the end of course we ended up with that least popular option- raising everyone's income taxes instead of focusing on the very rich and holding down the extent of the sin tax increases while increasing the sales taxes everyone has to pay.

I can't speak to whether that's the right or wrong way to balance the budget- but politically I think it's about the most unpopular way of dealing with the hole that the Legislature could have come up with.

1 comment:

JB said...

I think they have actually hit on pretty good message:

"We made a lot of cuts and then asked everybody to do a little bit - their part - in emergency taxes."

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