Queen: First GOP control has created a disastrous legacy

By Vicki Hyatt | Aug 25, 2014

The 2013-14 legislative session has finally wrapped up, and it is one State Rep. Joe Sam Queen predicts will go down in history the most disastrous in the state’s history.

Queen, a Waynesville Democrat, was part of the first legislative session in more than 150 years where the Republican Party was solidly in control of the House, Senate and the Governor’s office. Predictably, many changes were made from what was done in the past — changes Queen and other Democrats see as short-sighted and just ill-conceived.

“The absolute dumbest thing is not expanding Medicaid,” Queen said. This decision, along with the refusal extend unemployment benefits, cost the state 70,000 jobs and prevented $3.5 billion from entering the state’s economy.

“Just to give you an idea of how big $3.5 billion is,” Queen said, “it’s the complete budget of higher education for a year — all 15 campuses of the university system and all 54 campuses of community college system. That’s how much money isn’t coming into our state.”

Queen quoted Mike Walden, the NC State University extension economist, who said a rule of thumb is that one primary and one secondary job is created for every $100,000 of investment.

Couple that stance with actual cuts to public education, Queen said, which cost another 12,000 jobs, not counting the hit taken at the university level where funding was reduced by 28 percent at Western Carolina University, and about 40 percent at UNC’s chapel Hill medical school.

Equally as tragic is the total lack of any strategy for job creation, Queen said. The economic development strategies previously in place were dismantled as funding was jerked from regional agencies such as AdvantageWest and the Rural Center, two agencies that had worked hand-in-hand with WNC officials.

Economic development activities are now centered in the N.C. Department of Commerce under the leadership of a very competent person, but one who has no funds to work with.

“He doesn’t have a program,” Queen said of the governor. “He just wants us to give him some money so he can make a deal with his cronies. There are no boards where it’s vetted in the community, no oversight. That’s a big reason it failed. He couldn’t even get his own party to go along with that.”

Queen was pleased that during the final hours of the legislative session, the House approved a bill to provide $12 million to bring natural gas into Haywood County and, in the process, help Evergreen Packaging comply with federal air quality regulations.

“That was the only economic development we had going on down there,” Queen said. “They were going to privatize commerce, and we haven’t seen a thing. That amounts to asking existing businesses to support expanding their competition.”

Queen was equally upset with the tax decisions made in Raleigh — ones being billed as the largest tax cut in the state’s history.

He talked the study shared at a recent forum at A-B Tech showing that more than 80 percent of North Carolina residents will pay more taxes as a result of changes in the tax structure.

“They will say they cut every tax rate, and they did,” Queen said, “but for the first time in history, there is a full 7 percent sales tax on electricity and Duke just got a 10-percent rate hike approved.  There are over 7,000 corporations in the state, and the top 20 largest ones get a $1 million tax break each.”

North Carolina’s economy has grown steadily, and sometimes exponentially, through the years because of its outstanding higher education system and its competitive advantage in energy, he said.

“This is a pretty disastrous legacy. It is injustice, pure and simple,” he said. “This is the most regressive tax structure in the South. Fairness of our tax structure has been sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics. Poor and working families pay more and the rich pay less of their fair share. This started because that’s where their heads are at. It is really about giving privilege for the wealthy and paying for their tab.”

Comments (6)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Aug 25, 2014 08:02

Can we expect the opinions of Senator Davis also reported as news in the near future on this matter?  I'd love to see how The Mountaineer fairly covers all aspects of a story -- including the fact (not opinion) that NC is out-performing all southern stated with the economy and job creation -- a factual circumstance that contradicts Mr. Queen's opinion of the situation.  I'm sure a Republican would more fairly represent our moving to a more fair and constitutional society where everyone is invested in the success and constraint of our government not to impose on We The People more than is necessary.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Aug 25, 2014 09:55

         You might want to check this out:

 

http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.nc.htm

       If you care to, you will see N.C. has lost jobs in the last several months and unemployment has gone up. Contrary to mccrory's, etc claims.

       How is causing the middle and lower tax brackets to subsidize the higher, fair and/or constitutional?

 

       C.Z.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Aug 25, 2014 10:29

1) I see preliminary numbers are in for July 2014.  That's the single drop in job numbers and the single increase in unemployment rate.  Too soon to call it a trend.  (If those numbers stick.)  But it will be interesting to see if our recovery is slowing or stopping.

 

2) "How is causing the middle and lower tax brackets to subsidize the higher, fair and/or constitutional?" -- What are you talking about?  NC only has ONE tax bracket -- the same for everyone.  How can you get more "fair" than that?  The more you earn, the more tax you pay.  There is no "lower tax bracket".  That's the beauty of it all.  We're all "taxpayers".  No more pitting tax brackets against one another.  Everyone ought to have a common interest now in our public funds: use them wisely and take as little from us as is necessary to perform the administration of our government.



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Aug 25, 2014 12:41

               A more detailed observation is here:http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LASST370000000000006?data_tool=XGtable

 

               Perhaps you cannot get past your own prejudices. As many have documented, mccrory, etc have given huge tax breaks to the top income brackets. Brackets are still used by US! These breaks come from the rest of the people of N.C.

                When entities are not taxed in proportion to what they earn oppressive tyranny can result. Nor have OUR governments fulfilled their obligation to equally protect US. Flat taxes are not just a travesty, they are anti-US.

 

               C.Z.



Posted by: Scott Lilly | Aug 25, 2014 13:10

Sorry.  I still cannot make out the trend.  The statistics since January lack the "Reflects revised population controls, model reestimation, and new seasonal adjustment." indicator.  What does that mean?

 

Are you hoping for further improvement in the economy?  Or are you hoping the economy lapses into hard times?



Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Aug 25, 2014 13:42

                  I guess the charts are just too hard to comprehend are they?

                  As a farmer who has used charting to determine trends, the trend is quite clear.

                   Most certainly there has been changes in population as people flee N.C. This will result in a new model estimation as to labor force. Of course there must be seasonal adjustments.

                  I hope WE return to the Founding premise that all must pay in support of OUR shared government in proportion to what they gain.

 

                  C.Z.



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