My Turn, Keith Townsend: Too many lose under GOP rule

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Since the Republican takeover of the N.C. Legislature in 2011, nearly $4 billion in available state revenue has been written off in tax cuts. Since everyone hates taxes, one might ask, “Why is this a problem?” Because Republican tax priorities are designed to create big winners among the rich and countless losers among the middle class and the poor.

A brief look at the structure of the Republicans’ tax policy can help us discern who the winners and losers are under this Republican system. An overview of the 2015 tax brackets reveals that those with the lowest 20 percent of income ($12,000 average) had a tax increase of approximately $30. The middle 20 percent ($44,000 average) had their taxes reduced by $6, while North Carolinians with an income of at least $1 million saved an average of nearly $15,000. It is clear the Republican tax cuts were designed to benefit the very wealthy.

In 2013, N.C. eliminated an estate tax that would have been applied to only estates worth more than $5 million. Exactly one year later, we were the only state to eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit, ending an average refund of $119 for 907,000 low income workers throughout North Carolina.

On March 1 of this year, 30 new taxes for services, such as polishing shoes or calibrating guns, as well as a host of automotive repairs, went into effect. As taxes are being increased on lower- and middle-income families, corporate income taxes are to be reduced by $183 million this year, with a projected reduction of over $1 billion by the year 2020. There is even more good news for those of you who own an airplane. This year the tax on planes will be substantially reduced, resulting in the removal of another $2 million from our state’s treasury.

Who is hurt by these drastic cuts in revenue? As usual, it is those least able to fight back, especially children. Since the Republican takeover of the legislature, food stamps have been cut off to approximately 100,000 families, and North Carolina’s unemployment compensation is now the lowest in the nation. This assault on our poorest citizens brings with it hunger and despair.

Also, thanks to Republican policies, by 2014 N.C. ranked 47th in per student spending. As a result, 7,000 teacher assistants have been removed from elementary classrooms. Once again our children pay the price.

We should not allow the Republican legislature and governor to continue to undermine both the financial security and the moral standing of our great state. The fact is, Republican priorities favor the rich with tax cuts, while increasing taxes on the middle class and the poor. Remember that when you go to the polls to vote in November.

Keith Townsend lives in Mount Ulla.

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