Local leaders urge voters to defeat amendments
More than three dozen local elected officials have signed on to a letter urging voters to defeat the six constitutional amendments placed by Republican lawmakers on the ballot next month. Several, all Democrats, gathered in downtown Raleigh Friday morning to explain their concerns.
Danielle Adams, soil and water conservation supervisor for Durham County, said the hunting and fishing amendment is vague, unnecessary and could prevent local officials from restricting hunting in urban and suburban areas.
“Hunting and fishing has never been endangered here in North Carolina,” Adams said. “The majority in the legislature are looking to distract North Carolinians from the fact that they have eased up on environmental and agricultural regulations and haven’t been doing their jobs to protect and preserve our environment.”
Wake County Commissioner Sig Hutchinson and several other local leaders spoke against the proposal to cap the state’s personal income tax rate at 7 percent, warning that it could shift more of the future cost of services onto local governments, leading to higher property and sales taxes.
“Whereas this might sound like a good idea,” Hutchinson said, “in fact, it actually hurts the citizens of North Carolina by handcuffing the state’s ability to respond to future economic challenges such as hurricanes or a downturn in the economy, both of which we’ve seen recently.”
“When you look at this, there’s one word that sums it all up: unnecessary,” agreed Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams.
Morrisville Mayor T.J. Cawley warned that the amendment changing the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement would lead to “partisan gridlock.”
“That amendment says it’ll create a bipartisan board. However, what it doesn’t say is that it eliminates the nonpartisan member of the board, the member which often breaks the tie when the votes go down party lines,” Cawley said. “Creating partisan gridlock is bad for our towns, as it jeopardizes common-sense early voting plans.”
Others warned of the potential costs of the amendments dealing with requiring photo identification before casting a ballot at the polls and expanding crime victims’ rights, calling the amendments “blank checks” without enough details for voters to know what they’re truly voting for.
“They want us to vote now and ask questions later,” Adams said. “To me, that begs the question of whose interests these amendments are really meant to serve. Because you know what? They don’t serve the people of my community.”
In a statement, a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger dismissed the criticisms as politically motivated.
“Opposition from tax-and-spend liberals from the Triangle to a lower maximum income tax rate fits right into the Democratic Party’s failed policies. The amendment still leaves room for a 33 percent income tax hike, but apparently, not even that is enough for their extreme liberal agenda,” said Berger spokesman Pat Ryan.
“Under Republican leadership, the North Carolina General Assembly balanced the budget, saved the rainy day fund, catapulted North Carolina in the business climate index from 44th to 12th and invested more in public education than any time in state history – all while cutting taxes,” added Ryan.