RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — As gasoline prices continue to rise, Democrats on Thursday tried to rally support for their plan to send drivers a $200 check, using some of the excess money North Carolina has was used.
Under the Democrats’ proposal, every adult with a valid North Carolina driver’s license by March 31 would receive this payment.
Democrats would use $1.3 billion of the state’s excess cash to pay for it. The surplus is expected to total about $6.2 billion this year and next.
“We need targeted tax incentives that put money in the pockets of the people and those who need it most, and we need to do it now,” said Sen. Dan Blue (D-Wake County).
Republican leaders in the General Assembly have yet to announce their plans for the surplus and other changes they intend to make to the state budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said Thursday he hadn’t ruled out the idea of a rebate but thought a cut in the personal income tax rate would be better.
“Personally, I’d like to see something a little broader in scope and more durable than a temporary thing that can help with a tank of gas,” he said.
As part of the budget approved by the General Assembly late last year and approved by Gov. Roy Cooper (D), the income tax rate fell to 4.99 percent this year. It will continue to fall every year until it reaches 3.99 percent in 2027.
Sen. Berger said he would like to accelerate that schedule.
Gov. Cooper didn’t include any tax cuts or rebates in his budget proposal that he unveiled last month. A spokesman for him said he was willing to consider the discount proposed by Senate Democrats.
Senator Blue said he didn’t think a cut in the income tax rate would have the same effect as a one-time payment.
“That sets us up for more problems in two, three, four years,” he said. “Big income tax cuts for everyone, especially CEOs and the wealthy, won’t do the best for working people.”
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in North Carolina hit a new high of $4.39 on Thursday, according to AAA. That’s three cents up from the week before and $1.50 up from a year ago.
Republican lawmakers said they are still negotiating among themselves what changes to make to the budget and plan to announce it in the next three weeks. They also said they aim to complete the current session by July 1st. Sen. Berger indicated that no agreement could be reached without a budget agreement.
CBS 17 asked Sen. Berger, “After doing absolutely nothing with the excess money, are you all ready to leave here?”
He replied: “If we can’t pass legislation, I would say that whether we pass a budget or not, we would be in good shape.”
He noted that the current two-year budget for most state employees and teachers already includes 2.5 percent increases in the next fiscal year, but Democrats said those increases should be higher given inflation rates.
https://www.cbs17.com/news/north-carolina-news/with-billions-in-surplus-money-could-nc-send-money-for-your-gas-tank/ With billions in excess cash, could NC send cash for your gas tank?