Income tax

North Carolina lawmakers split over Medicaid, marijuana and income tax

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — A top Republican state lawmaker has voiced support for cutting the personal income tax rate in half as legislative leaders prepare to present a budget proposal to the Governor Roy Cooper (D) in the coming days.

Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said one of his priorities is to accelerate the already planned timeline to cut the state’s personal income tax rate.

Under last year’s budget deal, it fell to 4.99% this year and will drop a little each year until 2027, when it will reach 3.99%.

Senator Berger said it should go even lower, adding that “2.5% sounds good to me.”

His comments came as a new poll released in recent weeks by the GOPAC Education Fund and the Center for American Ideas found strong majority support in many of the most competitive legislative districts for cutting the tax rate on personal income to 2.5% by 2030.

The poll was conducted by the Differentiators, a Republican firm founded by two former employees of Senator Berger. To view poll results, Click here.

“I would like to accelerate the personal income tax cut,” Berger said.

Democrats, including Gov. Roy Cooper, have said they oppose a further cut in the income tax rate, instead backing a one-time $200 rebate that could help people cope with rising taxes. gasoline prices.

“I would support relief for ordinary people, and the gas pump is a place to do that, versus more across the board corporate tax cuts and more across the board income tax cuts. , especially that benefit the wealthiest among us,” Governor Cooper said recently. “I would prefer them to go that route. But, of course, that’s all part of the budget negotiations right now. »

Republican legislative leaders plan to unveil details of their budget proposal early next week and vote on it as well.

They said they were speaking with Governor Cooper first before going public to see if he would support it.

It is also expected to include pay raises for state employees and teachers, though Republicans did not specify how much.

“It’s the fastest it’s happened in a long time. So that’s a good sign,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said.

Recent polls have also asked voters about some high-profile issues the Senate has acted on in recent weeks but the House has been unwilling to address.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill to expand Medicaid coverage to about 600,000 more people and make other changes regarding access to health care. Senator Berger had opposed Medicaid expansion for years, but now says he thinks it’s “good state policy.”

The Senate also passed a bill to legalize medical marijuana and a controversial bill dealing with parental rights in education that also limits how LGBTQ issues are taught in schools.

The response in the House to each of these questions was the same.

” No no. Not yes. But not now,” President Moore said.

Differentiators polls have consistently found broad support for expanding Medicaid, legalizing medical marijuana, and cutting state income taxes.

Voters are divided, however, on legalizing online sports betting, another high-profile bill awaiting a House decision.

Pollsters conclude that supporting any of these measures is unlikely to hurt Republicans’ re-election chances in competitive precincts and, in some cases, they may improve their electoral prospects by supporting them.

Speaker Moore said his main goal was to get a budget deal and other matters could wait.

“I’m very confident Republicans will have a supermajority next year. When I say next year, I mean in six months. Then we can deal with it,” he said.

Asked about the House’s refusal so far to consider some of these issues, Senator Berger said, “I think they should take the bills. I don’t know if being frustrated about it serves any purpose at this point.

Moore also noted the record long session the legislature concluded in March after sitting for 14 months.

He made a commitment to the members to quickly conclude the current session, aiming for the 4e recess in July, noting that he had heard many of them worry about being able to continue to sit in the Legislature because of the unusual amount of time they had to devote to it during the long session.

“Yeah, we had a lot of people wondering if they could run again because it’s supposed to be a part-time job,” he said. “We had a very long session. He broke records. I wish we had a really short session.