Ashvegas Political Hit List: New year, new N.C. tax system; Tills on TV; more


By James Harrison

Taxes take off

The new year brings with it a new tax system for North Carolina workers. On Jan. 1, the state’s decades-old, three-tiered tax system was eliminated, and replaced with an across-the-board 5.8 percent personal income tax rate. Gov. Pat McCrory and General Assembly Republicans have been touting the change, claiming to have eliminated loopholes and lowered taxes for the entirety of state residents. But an Associated Press analysis has filled in a few gaps they left out. Although most taxpayers will indeed net more income, the state’s higher-earners will benefit most—seeing their tax burdens decrease by up to a quarter in some cases. The state’s lowest-earning taxpayers will see their rates decrease by only 0.2 percent. Other once-valuable tax exemptions for workers, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, have been done away with completely. Projections released by the legislature’s own Fiscal Research Division break down the changes based on income, and the numbers are, uh, interesting. Click at your own risk.

Asheville City, Buncombe County 2013 roundups

If we missed something over the holidays regarding city and county affairs, let us know. Local leaders have been mostly quiet in recent weeks, giving reporters the chance to reflect on the happenings of 2013. For roundups of the year in Buncombe County and Asheville City government, check these offerings fromXpress scribes Jake Frankel and David Forbes, respectively.

McCrory nixes Medicaid expansion

Our governor found other ways to make news in recent weeks, besides changing everyone’s taxes. If any of you were still holding out for McCrory to accept a federal offer to expand Medicaid in North Carolina, it’s not happening on his watch! Last week, McCrory’s office issued some of its strongest language on the issue to date, putting an end to any speculation that expansion under the Republican governor might actually somehow happen.

McCrory also made national headlines before Christmas, as hundreds of professors from 24 colleges and universities wrote his office to protest the targeting of a UNC-Chapel Hill professor by an organization funded primarily by state budget director Art Pope. The group, called the Pope-Civitas institute, asked UNC for six weeks of the professor’s personal e-mail, phone and text records, shortly after he published an op-ed criticizing McCrory’s administration in the News & Observer. Read the letter here.

Meadows lookin for money

Rather than fulfill a 70-year-old promise to complete an old road, U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows is asking the federal government to fork over $52 million to Swain County. The congressman filed a bill last week requesting the action, according to this Citizen-Times report.

Senate race gets real

Asheville meets Tom Tillis this week, as the state House Speaker released his first TV ads for his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. On Thursday, Tillis unveiled the 30-second spot, which is airing in markets across the state as part of a $300,000 ad buy. The commercial markets Tillis as a “conservative businessman,” without mentioning any of his ties to the General Assembly.

Tillis took aim at Hagan on the same day Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by the Koch Brothers, targeted the senator. The group fired off a $2.5 million ad buy slamming Hagan’s support for the Affordable Care Act, claiming it harms residents. You can watch it here (or during the evening news).

With 2014 finally here, all eyes seem to be on this race. This week, DC-newspaper Roll Call labeled the North Carolina race as the current election cycle’s “bellwether for Senate control.” The GOP primary is May 6, but Public Policy Polling has been tracking the possibility of a Hagan-Tillis matchup for months.


If you’ve read this far, you probably dig some political cartoons. Here are the best of 2013, according to Politico.

OK! That’s enough government for now. See ya next week.

James Harrison recently returned to Asheville after working as a government reporter for, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Follow him on Twitter at @jharrisonAVL.

1 Comment

Jason W. January 3, 2014 - 11:37 am

You forgot to mention the new 6.75 sales tax on all ticketed events (movies, concerts, theater, sporting events,) the $100 fee to register an electronic vehicle and the elimination of the tax free weekend for back to school shopping.

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