The North Carolina Senate tentatively approved legislation Monday that would let voters choose whether to amend the North Carolina Constitution to keep income taxes low, protect the state’s 'rainy day' emergency fund, defend private property rights and preserve the right to hunt and fish.
If the House of Representatives approves the bill and it becomes law, voters will consider constitutional amendments on the November 2016 ballot to:
- Preserve the right to hunt and fish, which are important parts of the state’s heritage and conservation efforts. North Carolina’s sportsmen and women spent $2.3 billion on hunting and fishing in North Carolina in 2011, generating $249 million in revenue and supporting more than 35,000 jobs in the state.
“This constitutional amendment will protect for future generations the hunting and fishing rights that have always been part of our heritage and way of life – and it will ensure North Carolina remains a sportsman's paradise,” said Sen. Andrew Brock (R-Davie), co-chair of the Senate Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee.
- Lower the maximum personal income tax rate in North Carolina from 10 percent to 5.5 percent and create a constitutional ‘rainy day’ fund that could only be used for financial emergencies and natural disasters. The amendment does not limit the growth of state government spending based on changes in population and inflation – a provision erroneously described by critics as TABOR.
“Before the historic Republican-led efforts to reform and lower our tax rates, North Carolina suffered from the highest taxes in the Southeast. This amendment will provide voters the opportunity to affirm those reforms and prevent politicians from returning to the same old tax-and-spend policies that saddled our state with high taxes and multi-billion dollar deficits,” said Sen. Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee.
“History has shown that there are periods of good economic times and bad, and this constitutional amendment will ensure we have the necessary savings to meet our state’s fiscal needs in the event of a recession or emergency,” said Sen. Brent Jackson (R-Sampson), co-chair of the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee.
- Prohibit the state from seizing a person’s private property and giving it to another person for development – preventing situations like what happened in Kelo v. New London, where more than 15 families lost their homes for the development of a hotel and other commercial ventures. This amendment would only allow condemnation for a public use like roads, schools and utilities, and would ensure property owners receive just compensation and a right to a jury trial in all eminent domain condemnation cases.