N.C. Rep. Guice states opposition to the state budget

Published 3:46 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Editor&39;s note: The following remarks were made by Representative W. David Guice on the floor of the North Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday, August 5, 2009. These remarks were made in opposition to the Conference Committee recommendations for Senate Bill 202, the Appropriations Act of 2009.

Colleagues, we are gathered here once again to talk about the historic budget that is before us. I know we have heard many points on this budget compromise, good and bad, so I do not want to spend too much time talking about the same points. I do; however, want to take a few minutes and let you know my feelings and the feelings of many of my constituents about this budget. Let me first say that as a retired state employee, father, small business owner and former local government official I have seen many interesting things over the years. The budgetary process in the North Carolina General Assembly is by far the most interesting I have seen ‐ and not in a good way. I believe there is a better way to conduct the business of the people.

Our system of government in the United States is a wonderful system and our way of creating laws is healthy. When used correctly, this process is meant to encourage input, discussion and a healthy debate on the important issues of the day. Heated debates and discussions on issues can be traced all the way back to the First Continental Congress. In order for there to be that needed and robust discussion on issues everyone has to be at the table whether you like them and their views or not. Each side of the debate must be heard or a majority of North Carolinians are being ignored.

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I sat here yesterday and listened to people congratulate themselves and pat each other on the back for a job well done. This is not what we should be doing and not how we should be acting during these difficult times. People all across North Carolina are hurting; families, children, older adults ‐ truly the backbone of our state. At the end of June there were 514,877 people unemployed in North Carolina and we have people in this chamber celebrating this budget bill. How is that doing the work necessary to support the people of North Carolina?

One thing that I have learned during my time in the North Carolina General Assembly is that there is a tremendous and deep disconnect between what takes place in this building and what is happening on the main streets of North Carolina. I know that many of us agree that small businesses are the strong foundation of our statewide economy, so I would like to use an example of a small business in my home district to illustrate a point. A small business owner recently told me that his business has dropped off 61% over the last two years. As part of this budget proposal it has been recommended that corporate income taxes be raised. I would like someone to explain to me how that is going to help stimulate his business and small businesses like his all across North Carolina. How is that going to help our struggling economy and our people who are struggling daily to make ends meet? By the way, the people of North Carolina are not stupid. They understand that a surcharge is a tax increase. So, let&squo;s call it what it is.

It is not just small business owners who have shared their thoughts and concerns with me. I have heard from teachers, school board and county government officials, leaders of municipalities, those that are unemployed and those that are currently employed but afraid they will soon lose their jobs ‐ truly everyone from all walks of life. They are letting me know how they are hurting, how frustrated they are with the lack of progress to address these issues and how they truly see no light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, just today I heard from a clergyman in my district who told me that he has observed a decrease in building permits, a local business has gone through another round of layoffs and people are genuinely fearful for the future. He also mentioned how requests for food and other assistance have increased at his church.

It is imperative that we give a better effort and listen more to the people of our great state. As long as I am a member of this legislative body and as long as there is breath left in me I will fight for a more inclusive and transparent budget process. I will fight for a process that truly defines priorities and then establishes needs based on those priorities. I am determined to ensure that no matter how loud the noise may get within these walls, it never drowns out the voice of the people.

In the real world, in people&squo;s homes and in their businesses, revenues are first defined and then expenses are adjusted to meet those revenues. Careful attention is given to the principle of not exceeding revenues. By the admission of the very writers of this budget they set a list of expenses and then went out and found the revenues. The revenues needed to balance expenses come through the use of tax increases, both sales and personal income, as well as other fee increases that impact services across the board.

The bottom line is that there is a better way and the people of North Carolina do indeed deserve better. While some of you may congratulate yourselves on a job well done, I say that we have failed the people of our great state. In one of our darkest hours as a state we have left the people wanting for better. They deserve our best efforts and our best efforts they have not received.

I support our teachers, our law enforcement officers, our state employees, our firefighters and all of those who work each day to make a difference in the lives of others throughout our state. I know that this budget could have been better. I know that this budget should have been better. And I am disappointed with the outcome.

Friends, I will close by simply reminding you that we have been sent here for the solemn purpose of doing the work of the people. When we lose sight of that mission, and allow decisions to be based only on politics, we have lost our way.

The people of North Carolina deserve better.