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Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staff and wire reports
U.S. Rep. Howard Coble was the only North Carolina legislator to vote against the economic stimulus package approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday.
In doing so, he broke with the state’s delegation made up of seven Democrats and five other Republicans.
Coble, whose 6th District includes part of Rowan County, released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying he voted against the plan, even though it was endorsed by Republican president and leadership of both parties, because it amounted to “applying a Band-Aid to a problem that requires major surgery.”
Coble also called the measure “deficit spending at its worst” and said he opposed the way it was adopted.
“It was brought up under suspension of the rules, which meant that there were no hearings on the bill, and we couldn’t amend it on the House floor,” Coble said. “I know that everyone wants to assist our slowing economy as soon as possible, but adding this much to our deficit is the wrong approach in my opinion.”
U.S. Rep. Mel Watt, a Democrat whose 12th District takes in a portion of Rowan, voted in favor of the bill, as did U.S. Robin Hayes, a Republican who represents Cabarrus County in the 8th District.
“This legislation works to stimulate our economy in two ways: putting more money into the hands of our working families and providing business incentives to invest in new equipment and construction,” Hayes said in a statement released by his office. “I was strongly advocating that a provision directed at rural economies be added, and I am disappointed that it wasn’t. However, I think this bill is a good step forward.”
The measure now goes to the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a Republican from Salisbury, will have a chance to vote on it.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, the state’s other Senator and also a Republican, said Tuesday he has introduced legislation that offers an alternative economic stimulus plan which would boost spending by encouraging states to suspend sales tax collections from April 3 through April 14. The states that do would get 60 percent of their lost revenue reimbursed by the federal government.
He said it would provide a boost to small businesses and an incentive for consumers to shop.
“The buying power of the American consumer is the best means we have for creating economic stimulus,” Burr said in a statement released by his office. “Tax holidays have a strong track record of increasing consumer purchases and sparking economic growth. By giving people the incentive to shop, more money will be pumped in our economy, giving it the boost it needs.”
In North Carolina, the General Assembly would have to meet in special session to approve the tax holiday.