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After returning from Senate President Pro Tem, Phil Berger's, press conference to reveal the Senate GOP Caucus's agenda, someone said to me, "Hey, it's amazing how two people can hear the same words from the same press conference and yet hear different things." I'd never thought about it but had booked two interview guests to come to the Legislative Week in Review TV studio - Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch (they're liberal/progressive - pick your term) and Francis DeLuca, the president of Civitas Institute (Conservative group yet not affiliated with a political party). Yes, both gentleman heard the senator's words and YES, one sees trouble in the political agenda and the sees reforms long overdue to North Carolina.
The Senate Republican leadership is promising reform - reform for the North Carolina tax system (rumors float and rhetoric indicates possible proposals to eliminate state personal and corporate income taxes while expanding sales taxes and a business franchise tax), public education reform (especially changing teacher tenure policies). The federal health care law gives the state an option to operate a health insurance exchange, allow the federal government to operate it for the state or operate an exchange as a hybrid state-federal venture. Senator Berger says GOP senators don't agree to involve the state in health insurance exchanges. The health care law allows for the expansion of Medicaid but the Senate GOP says it does not have the support expand Medicaid (as they say the state can't get a firm number on the current Medicaid program's cash flow).
Well, Francis DeLuca of Civitas Institute held a 5-minute interview w/ us. His perspective:
Rob Schofield argues the NC Senate's proposals on tax reform will "take the state back to the 1920's." He's technically correct because the state's current tax structure was created in the 1930s, during the Great Depression.
If you're "into" state politics, these two interviews are worth ten minutes of your time. In the 2013 NC General Assembly legislative session, the Democratic party doesn't have the numbers to defeat legislation; super-majority Republican strength sits in both the state House and Senate. But, there are numerous ideas for tax reform from all the different Republicans. Right now, you'll hear those opinions, unofficially, in the legislative cafeteria and in the halls of the General Assembly building. Who knows how many of these ideas will receive official attention from legislative Republican leaders who control how bills will flow through the legislative process.