Theres a new sheriff in town at the General Assembly.
Thats evident by a great many changes taking place in North Carolinas lawbooks.
The GOP, fully entrenched in power for the first time in more than 100 years, has a lot of Democratic work it would like to undo and its own priorities it would like to enshrine in policy and law.
And, of course, theyve earned that right at the ballot box. Voters sent Republicans to the Governors mansion and to both chambers of the General Assembly.
While the new leaders on Jones Street have the perogative to push through legislation they think is wise, we encourage them to consider carefully what unintended consequences may occur as the result of quick action thats not well-thought through.
At the top of the list is repealing a tax on businesses that allows them to operate. That tax is paid to the towns and counties in which the business operates.
As towns and cities grow larger, so to does the amount of money a town generates from that particular tax.
By repealing the ability of towns and counties to levy that tax and collect that money, legislators would cut off a potentially important revenue stream to the local governments that collect them.
In response, towns and cities are going to have to find other ways to make up for that lost revenue, by raising such other taxes as they are still allowed to levy.
Or, those local governments could choose to cut services, a decision that could have a profound effect on state government. Imagine a town that chooses not to take care of its streets or provide recreation opportunities for young people. Taxpayers accustomed to those services will first yell and scream at their mayor, but they will soon learn that legislators created the problem.
Those same people will look to legislators to fix the mess they created. In other words, they will expect the state to spend its own money to repair the streets or build the community centers.
Taken as a whole, privilege taxes are not overwhelming. We know of not one single business that failed to open because the privilege tax was too high. We also know a lot of people who wouldnt be very happy if a service they value went away because the towns ability to provide it dissappearred with the privilege tax.