NCGOV 2024: Folwell, Graham spar on dollars-and-cents issues.

Finally, we’re seeing something other than fawning over our dubiously-qualified lieutenant governor:

North Carolina is facing an affordable housing crisis, and it’s become an issue in the race for governor. One Republican candidate is proposing a tax credit for first-time homebuyers.

Salisbury attorney Bill Graham is looking to stand out in the GOP primary, where he faces Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and State Treasurer Dale Folwell. Graham has touted his plan to help homebuyers in social media posts and interviews.

“To get first-time homebuyers here in this state a leg up, we want to give them tax relief,” he told Greenville radio station WTIB. “So that’s the conservative message that we need to be pushing. That’s what I’m going to be pushing. And, I know in politics, people say, ‘Well, you need to go negative,’ but you have to do something positive. What are you going to do for the people?”

Graham declined to be interviewed for this story, but his campaign provided more specifics about the plan. First-time homebuyers would get a $5,000 credit on their state income taxes over two years. Only people who have lived in North Carolina for at least three years would qualify.

“The policy is designed to allow North Carolina residents to achieve the American Dream of home ownership while ensuring responsible fiscal management,” a spokesman for Graham said in an email.

Housing experts say tax credits and down payment assistance programs can be helpful. But the amount of money offered determines how successful a program will be.

“I think the challenge in this current housing market is $5,000 is not much of anything at all for the reality of housing costs and interest rates at the moment,” said Samuel Gunter, executive director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition.

Graham’s tax credit plan would require the legislature to pass a bill changing the tax code — something Folwell was quick to point out when asked about the proposal.

“I hope that Bill Graham has read the North Carolina constitution,” he said. “That would clearly point out that he would not have the ability as the governor to do such a thing.”

Folwell said a tax credit wouldn’t fully solve a housing affordability problem that’s closely tied to other economic challenges, like inflation and the cost of childcare.

“The best, simplest and most efficient way to solve several problems at one time is to increase the pre-tax credit that people can deduct out of their paychecks to pay for childcare,” he said, adding that such a program would include “the responsibility to educate people, especially middle-, lower- and fixed-income individuals, about how this saves them money in the long run.”

Folwell pointed out that the typical cost of childcare is much larger than the maximum amount you can have withheld from your paycheck before taxes.[….]

The Robinson campaign had one of their worker bees contribute to the discussion with an email.  I’m sure Team Robinson is wary of actually exposing their guy to the media.

*He might go off on a tangential rant about THE JEWS, THE GAYS, THE TRILATERAL COMMISSION, or perhaps even THE LIZARD PEOPLE. (Better to keep MKR preoccupied with these “rallies” averaging 40-50 people in attendance.)*

Remember, MKR did tell us that he’s not very good at math, and that anyone who has him managing money should go to jail.  So, I can understand the campaign’s apprehension to allow their candidate to wander into these types of discussions.