Political notebook: Senate candidate talks refugees during Democrats meeting

Published 12:05 am Saturday, November 21, 2015

U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Griffin summed up his stance on whether America should accept refugees with one sentence when speaking to the Rowan County Democratic Party on Thursday.

“You cannot be the light of the world, and turn it off when you don’t like who’s close by,” Griffin said.

Griffin was asked about America’s refugee policy near the end of an hour-long question and answer session during the Rowan Democrats’ regularly scheduled meeting. He is the President and CEO of a Durham staffing company and a Democrat who declared his candidacy in October.

He said the U.S. already has a strong process in place, but “every process can always be improved.”

“You shelter the weak and you help them step up,” he said. “That’s how America was formed.”

He questioned whether America would be treating the root cause by stopping refugees from entering the country, referencing a bill that passed the house on Thursday. Syrians are leaving their country because of problems stemming from an internal war, he said.

“That’s where we need to focus on efforts — addressing the problem at the source rather than trying to treat the symptom,” he said. “We do a lot of symptom chasing and part of that is because it’s politically expedient. People can see the symptom. They don’t necessarily understand the problem.”

Griffin said the bill currently pending in Congress — the American SAFE Act of 2015 —  is a politically expedient way to address the refugee crisis, but doesn’t address the problem. The bill raises barriers for refugees who wish to relocate into the U.S.

He said background checks should be required for those seeking temporary asylum, but refugees who want to permanently relocate should face a “strong” vetting process.

Group ranks state’s tax climate as 15th best

The Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index this week ranked North Carolina’s tax climate as the 15th best in the nation.

The foundation’s index is designed to show how well states structure tax systems, according to the organization’s website. In order, the ten best states in the index were: Wyoming, South Dokota, Alaska, Florida, Nevada, Montana, New Hampshire, Indiana, Utah and Texas.

Oregon, Washington, Michigan and Delaware ranked 11 through 14 overall.

The Tax Foundation’s index said North Carolina experienced the most dramatic improvement. North Carolina’s 2013 Republican-led tax overhaul was the reason cited for the improvement.

In its index, the Tax Foundation also ranked states in individual tax categories. North Carolina’s sales and property tax rankings were the worst of any of its categories. North Carolina ranked 31st in sales tax and 32nd in property tax.

North Carolina’s corporate tax ranked highest of any category at seven of 50.

The Tax Foundation is a nonprofit think tank founded in 1937. The group describes itself as nonpartisan. It collects approximately $3.6 million in revenue and spends $2.9 million per year, according to Internal Revenue Service filings.

Gov. McCrory’s approval rate remains the same in latest poll

As North Carolina inches closer to its gubernatorial elections, Gov. Pat McCrory’s approval rating remains unchanged.

The latest poll from High Point University suggests 42 percent of registered voters in the state approve of McCrory’s job performance. It’s similar to the university’s polls from March and September.

In the High Point poll, 42 percent of respondents said they approved of the job McCrory is doing. A total of 45 percent disapproved and 14 percent said they didn’t know or refused to answer.

To get its results, High Point interviewed 508 registered voters between Nov. 7 and 12.

In the gubernatorial election, polls place the McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper in a statistical tie.

 Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.