At first glance, Charlotte would appear to be a rather hopeless venue for the teaching and preaching of fiscal conservatism.
Since Pat McCrory’s departure from city politics in 2008, the Democrats have taken the mayor’s office and a 9-2 majority on the city council.
The John Locke Foundation notes that Charlotte, for more than a decade, has held the dubious title of North Carolina’s highest-taxed municipality. Charlotte City Manager Curt Walton recently told The Charlotte Observer that the city was “in decline” and needed government intervention to reverse that trend. The bloc of government services dependents was about to overwhelm the bloc of taxpaying producers in the city.
So, Walton introduces a budget proposal calling for property tax increases to pay for “investments” in struggling, low-income sections of the city.
Warren Cooksey, one of only two GOP councilmen, introduced an alternative budget that did not require property tax increases. In effect, it limits — some say starves — the bureaucratic beast.
The Cooksey proposal was voted down on a 9-2 party line vote. Then, something strange happened. Four Democrats came to their senses and decided to join the two GOP members in opposing Walton’s proposal — which was strongly backed by Mayor Anthony Foxx — that included property tax increases and a number of new capital projects. Walton’s proposal LOST 6-5.
The Left is now in a panic. They have a June 30 deadline to pass a budget, a lot of new stuff they want to do with taxpayer dollars, and no vehicle for squeezing more money out of said taxpayers.
Now, instead of simply ignoring and running over limited government proponents, the city has to sit down and talk.
Who knows where this will go. Hopefully, it will mean a bit of a respite for already tax-weary Charlotte residents.
This story is a great lesson for Republicans in The General Assembly and The Congress. Stop worrying about “getting something done.”
Declare your principles, and be ready to stand and fight for them. Withholding cash — starving the beast — is one great way to get the ball rolling on responsible stewardship of tax dollars.