Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hunt, Vinroot campaigning again, together

Former Gov. Jim Hunt and former Charlotte Mayor Richard Vinroot were once rivals for the governorship -- Hunt running for his fourth term in 1996, and Vinroot angling for the Republican nomination so he could oppose Hunt that year. But state Rep. Robin Hayes won the GOP nomination in the primary that spring and later lost the election to Hunt.

Now Hunt and Vinroot are campaigning again, this time for a fundamental restructuring of North Carolina's tax system. They took part in a briefing Tuesday morning to unveil the recommendations of the business committee of the Emerging Issues Institute. Vinroot took part via conference call from Charlotte, while Hunt -- who set up the Emerging Issues Forum more than 20 years ago -- presided. Vinroot, Lenoir County businessman John McNairy and Asheville businessman Jack Cecil co chaired the committee, though Cecil was not present. They called for reform that adheres to three principles: simplicity, fairness, and minimal loopholes.

Without endorsing specific tax proposals, they called for broadening the state sales tax base so that personal income tax rates and corporate income tax rates could be reduced. As Hunt noted, the sales tax base is "severely eroded" and the system "is not fair. It is not realistic." He said lower income families spend more of their incomes on goods, paying a fairly high sales tax, while higher income families spend more on services that are not taxed at all.

Vinroot was emphatic about the tax system the state has now. It doesn't work well, and the high corporate tax rate can be a "killer" when it comes to economic development -- yet the tax doesn't bring in all that much revenue. "We're too high in all the wrong places," Vinroot added.

Vinroot noted that any tax changes would result in some squealing. That might include his fellow lawyers in N.C. if the sales tax were expanded to legal services. But, he noted, when he first began discussing tax reform with other lawyers, all agreed that "we were far more concerned about the quality of life in this state" and that tax reform would be central to maintaining that standard.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finally, an idea that any reasonable person can support if they can look at the big picture.

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