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Carolina Beat

Bold Leadership in Raleigh

Nov. 8th, 2012
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The 2011-12 North Carolina General Assembly has been under a barrage of attacks for bold moves during the first session under Republican leadership in more than a century. Republican lawmakers have been accused of decimating education, which has not happened. They also have been accused of giving tax breaks to millionaires and waging a war on women's health. Neither of these happened, either.

Included in the 2011 budget bill (Session Law 2011-145, page 340) was a tax deduction for the first $50,000 of net business income earned during a taxable year. The intent was to offer a break to small businesses during the worst recession since the Great Depression. The tax break offers a way for small businesses to retain capital at a critical time and help get the economy moving. The left has criticized, chastised, and accused the General Assembly of passing a tax break that benefits wealthy law practices and millionaires.

Who really will benefit? According to recent estimates from the NCGA Fiscal Research Division, less than 1 percent of those filing for the break will be in the $1 million tax bracket.

The $50,000 tax credit, however, will help small businesses -- 69 percent of all the tax returns in the under-$50,000 tax bracket will benefit from this particular break. Eighty-eight percent of those benefiting from the break will be businesses earning less than $100,000 a year. And that's how much money the business earned, not how much the owner was paid.

Who are these small businesses? Contractors, barbers, landscapers, moms who sell Tupperware and Mary Kay to pay for their kids' school clothes -- real North Carolina small businesses trying to survive. Regardless of the rhetoric from the left, tax breaks to help small businesses will do just that -- help small businesses.

The following year, another budget provision created a new round of criticism from the left. This time, public funds were withdrawn from Planned Parenthood. The 2012 budget bill (Session Law 2012-142, Section 10.12) said any funding for family planning services and pregnancy prevention activities will remain with the local health department rather than going to Planned Parenthood. That means $343,000 in taxpayers' money this year will not go to Planned Parenthood, pending any contracts already in effect.

The left claims, "Thousands of low-income women will now be forced onto waiting lists for mammograms and other preventive screenings as well as family planning services thanks to the ideological decision to deny any state funds to Planned Parenthood to provide the services and counseling."

But the money was not withheld from women's health services. The $343,000 will go to local health departments across North Carolina to provide those services. The women the left is worried about still can get family planning, maternal, and child care services. They just can't get a government-funded abortion. The services will be available at the local health department where services for their children, dental care, and chronic disease control also are available.

Is this the demise of Planned Parenthood? Hardly. When state funding was diverted to local health departments, Planned Parenthood went to the federal government and received about $426,000 -- more than the General Assembly shifted from the organization.

Planned Parenthood also is fighting back with political action, and spent close to $12 million nationally on the recent election. Most of that money was used to attack Republicans.

The left will continue to attack and accuse. Meantime, thanks to new leadership and bold decisions, small businesses will get much-needed relief and women will get health services they need and want.

Becki Gray is vice president for outreach at the John Locke Foundation.