#NCGA: GOP House member laments his party’s back-track, retreat on tax policy

millisEvery once in a while we’re blessed with a lone voice of common sense, out in the wilderness, trying to inject some common sense into the nonsense that is the Raleigh political circus.  John Rhodes and Robert Brawley got primaried out of office.  John Blust got married and settled down.  (Though, it seems he has recently decided to start making some noise again.)   Pender County state rep. Chris Millis (R) — first elected in 2012 — is attracting quite a bit of positive attention from grassroots folks for his willingness to criticize even his own party from the right when he believes it has overreached.

During the recent US Senate primary, Millis gained notoriety as the only state-level Republican politico from the Wilmington area to NOT endorse Thom Tillis. 

On Thursday, Millis voted against the renewal of state film incentives — something very popular with the Chamber and local government crowd in his home area.  The Pender Republican is going on offense, spinning his vote as one of principle, rather than one of hurting home turf interests: legislature

Last year a major Tax Reform bill (HouseBill 998) was passed that moved North Carolina from the 46th worst state in regard to taxation to nearly into the top 15 in our Nation.The past TaxReform package provided the necessary revenue for the proper role of government but did so in a manner more in line with principles of greater economic growth by providing a low burden for all individuals.

Within Tax Reform we took an archaic and burdensome tiered individual income tax structure(6%, 7%, 7.75%), which would harmfully tax one more as they prospered,and replaced this egregious structure with a Flat Tax of 5.75% for all individuals.In order to lower the tax burden for all while funding the role of government, special targeted tax incentives that favored a selected few were mathematically sunsetted within the previous Tax Reform package.

Theory, application, and history establish the fact that providing a low and uniform tax burden for all leads to greater economic growth than forcing all individuals to bear a higher burden in order to give preferential treatment to another. Last year, we got it right to remove from our tax code loopholes, carve-outs, and preferential treatment so that we may treat all individual taxpayers the same.

Regardless of the past moves in the right direction,yesterday the House amended Senate Bill 763 to rewritemillis1 back into the tax code the extension of a few of the special tax-credits scheduled to sunset (namely the Historic Preservation TaxCredit and the Film Tax Credit). While I fully support the prosperity of those who provide for themselves and their families within the Historic Preservation and Film Industries, it is contrary to principles of greater economic growth and my oath of office to utilize the tax-code to subsidize one sector of our State economy at the expense of another. […] 

We posted earlier about how House speaker (and GOP Senate nominee) Thom Tillis took the lead in Thursday’s debate to ensure the survival of the film incentives.  Today, it was reported that the Senate came back and yanked the film incentives from the budget. 

Millis said his position on the legislation was based on fairness:

[…] Please note that the Film Tax Credit does not simply give qualifying productions a25% tax break on the taxes they owe to the State, but the credit is structured to give the production 25 cents for every dollar they spend and that these dollars are granted from the State Treasury above and beyond any State taxes paid.

While it has been correctly reported that I voted against the specific amendments to revive and extend these sunsets poised to expire, it has not been told as of yet that I also provided a solution to this dilemma.Please note that immediately after these tax-credits were extended, I proposed an amendment that would provide the exact same tax credit to all North Carolina taxpayers.

If…and I must say again…“if”, the proponents of preferential tax treatment are correct regarding the “return on investment” and benefit for the State by way of granting one sector of our State economy a subsidy or tax break at the expense of all others, then think about the prosperity that could be brought by granting every North Carolina taxpayer 25 cents for every dollar that they spend in our State. […] 

What? * Give the peasants — um, er, citizens — some of their money BACK?  That’s heresy!*

I, like Millis, fail to understand why the Republicans are falling all over themselves for these movie people. I know people who live in popular filming locations — such as Southport, for instance.  They tell me the shoots produce all kinds of inconvenience like street closures, traffic tie-ups, and noise. Quite often, the workers on the shoot are imported in from out of town.  In many cases, local restaurants are ignored as caterers are brought in from out of town to feed the folks on the set. 

And these movie people are NOT voting Republican.  The rise and growth of the film industry in the Wilmington area has coincided with the recent growth and electoral successes of the Democrat Party in the region.

Why not learn from Millis’ point?  Why not mass-incentivize? Why not create an environment attractive enough for everyone and anyone to jump at the chance to start or grow a business in North Carolina? Why reward newcomers from out of state at the expense of people who have been here AND have been committed to North Carolina and its people?