05/20/08 — Money woes: Families are going to look hard at any tax increase

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Money woes: Families are going to look hard at any tax increase

Local politicians across North Carolina are finding out something that the federal government is going to understand very, very soon.

If you want voters to go along with a plan for more new taxes — or to give up tax cuts previously promised — you had better do better about explaining why you need it.

And while you are at it, you better make sure your budget house is in order and that you are using the money you are already getting wisely.

The May debacles for Wayne and Duplin counties and their sales tax increase proposals should send a message not only to both commissions, but to both school boards as well.

This year, voters are looking very closely at anything that is going to cost them more money — and they had better trust that you are taking care of what they are already giving you if you want them to OK more.

The days of simply throwing out the “it’s for the children” line and expecting a rally of support from the community are over. That’s the kind of attitude increased expenses for gas and food as well as other concerns about the economy creates.

And local officials are not the only ones who need to think more about what they are asking of voters this year.

While voters probably are indeed looking for a change, they are not so selfless that they are going to give just anyone carte blanche to get into office and start spending like there is no tomorrow. They will pay for some programs and support some causes, but no one is sitting around their living room these days with wads of extra cash to spread around.

There is also a lot of talk nationally about tax cuts and going after wealthy Americans who are “not paying their fair share.”

If you are a taxpayer with a fine-tuned nose for a politician who is about to try to get into your wallet, your senses are probably twitching away.

The income levels put forth by many of those looking for a handy dandy campaign slogan to suggest that Americans need to step up and take care of each other are not looking out for the average middle class voter. The new limits put many American families — and very likely you — right on the edge of the wealthy category.

And that means higher taxes not just on income, but on inheritances and investments.

Voters are getting smarter. They are learning that if they want to protect their money, they have to do it themselves. That means it could be a very tough year for spin doctors — at any level.

Published in Editorials on May 20, 2008 10:44 AM