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Lower taxes help N.C. win battle for jobs

Income taxes should be greatly reduced while sales tax is broadened for all

By Phil Berger
Special to the Observer

I’ll never forget that day. My dad lost his job and we were moving. I was not yet five years old. We were headed to a place where he could find work and better opportunity.

Dad was a blue collar worker. His jobs were not easy. I remember helping him pick steel splinters out of his hands after he spent long shifts at the factory making saw blades.

As a young husband and father, I made tough choices to make ends meet. I stacked particle board on assembly lines, and worked multiple jobs to provide for my family while putting myself through school.

My wife, Pat, worked spooling denim and would come home with stained blue hands.

Things were not easy, but we believed in opportunity and the American Dream.

Sadly, today that opportunity is slipping for many. Hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow are fading.

North Carolina’s 9.2 percent unemployment rate is the fifth worst in the country. Over the last decade, family incomes fell by $5,500.

Why? A big reason is our broken tax system.

According to The Tax Foundation, our state has the Southeast’s highest taxes. We must look to states that are thriving for a new vision.

Last year, The Wall Street Journal compared the economies of the nine states with the highest income taxes, like California, to the nine states without income taxes, like Texas.

States without income taxes attracted more new residents and grew their economies faster than states with income taxes.

Most importantly, “no income tax states” experienced 5.4 percent job growth while “high income tax states” lost jobs.

We must face the facts – North Carolina is a high income tax state. And we’re suffering the consequences.

Our state’s 1930s Depression-era tax model doesn’t help us recruit business and create jobs. It doesn’t provide bigger family paychecks. And it penalizes success and innovation.

What North Carolina needs

We need meaningful, fair tax reform that creates jobs by making us more competitive than our neighbors. Good tax reform will:

• give working families the largest tax cut in state history;

• greatly reduce and possibly eliminate income taxes;

• close special interest loopholes and exemptions;

• encourage savings and investment; and

• eliminate the death tax.

These changes can be achieved by broadening the sales tax, which is fundamentally fair and progressive. The sales tax requires all citizens to pay something. The more you make and the more you spend, the more you will pay.

Expect liberal elitists and their media cheerleaders to wage class warfare. They will fight to protect the unfair status quo that takes the fruits of your labor and gives it to someone else. But their shortsighted mission to redistribute your shrinking family income is wrong-headed.

We’re in a battle with 49 other states to create and attract new jobs. We can either surrender and stubbornly preserve a failing system, or lead the fight for more freedom and greater opportunity. The battle to protect the American Dream is one worth waging. And we will win, with your support.

Berger, a Republican from Eden, is President Pro Tempore of the N.C. Senate.
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