Tuesday, May 03, 2005

NC Budget Woes

John Hood's Daily Journal: "The next time you hear something like this from your state lawmaker - 'we've done all we can do to trim the state budget, so the only question is how we're going to raise additional revenue' - you now have the following reasons to snort."

Here are a few of his examples:

"• The cafeteria at the Legislative Building in Raleigh spends about $620,000 more than it collects each year from diners. That is, the taxpayers subsidize the meals of lawmakers, staffers, reporters, and lobbyists. Nice deal for them.

• The state spends about $1.6 million a year enforcing certificate-of-need needs on state hospitals and medical practices that do little more than suppress competition and drive up prices. So we pay higher taxes in order to pay higher medical bills.

• Current plans will allow about $112 million a year from the national tobacco settlement to flow to three “trust funds” outside the normal budget process – two of which are clearly being used by political insiders to fund pet economic-development frivolities. Why should these dollars, supposedly paid to compensate taxpayers for smoking-related costs in Medicaid and the state employee health plan, not being used to defray costs in Medicaid and the state employee health plan?

• The state income-tax code currently offers special credits for gleaned crops (worth more than $4 million a year), recycling facilities and transportation ($9 million), dry-cleaning equipment ($600,000), and use of the state ports ($4.5 million) among other items."

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