Patrick Gleason

Contrasting Records a Feature of the North Carolina Senate Race

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Posted by Patrick Gleason, Jorge Marin on Monday, July 21st, 2014, 10:00 AM PERMALINK

Most state legislatures have wrapped up their 2014 sessions and the November elections will be here sooner that many realize. North Carolina is one of the top political battlegrounds this fall, with embattled Senator Kay Hagan (D) fighting for her political life against her Republican opponent, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. Politico reported last week faces one of the toughest reelection races for any Senate Democrat this year, a true toss-up fight against North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis.”

Hagan has made clear that her campaign strategy is to score political points by painting Tillis as a conservative zealot whose record in the legislature is extreme. However, a look at the facts about Tillis’s top achievements as Speaker’s shows his record to be anything but extreme, and very much in line with pro-growth policies. Here are the highlights of what has been accomplished in the North Carolina legislature under the leadership of Thom Tillis:

  • Historic, rate reducing tax reform: last year Speaker Tillis helped bring the income tax rate down from a top rate of 7.75 percent to a flat rate of 5.75 percent, reducing taxes for all income levels. This pro-growth tax package relieved North Carolina of the dubious distinction of having the highest income tax in the Southeast and will provide North Carolinians with $6.475 billion in tax relief over the next 6 years. Tillis also cut the state corporate tax, one of the most economically damaging forms of taxation, from 6.9 percent to 5 percent. If revenue targets are met, the rate will go down to 3 percent by 2017.
  • Full repeal of death tax
  • Balanced the budget every year he has been Speaker
  • Since becoming Speaker in 2011, unemployment in North Carolina has gone from well above the national average to below it, from  9.7 percent to 6.4 percent.
  • North Carolina’s GDP grew by an average of 4.73 percent since Tillis became Speaker, while the nation as a whole grew by only 2.17 percent during the same period.
  • Last August, North Carolina enacted much-needed regulatory reform, which removed many of the state’s antiquated and burdensome regulations on businesses.
  • Tillis helped to shepherd through an expansion of the state’s school voucher program which has helped over 2,100 children escape failing schools and get a better education.


With a list of accomplishments like this, it’s going to be hard for Hagan to paint Tillis’s record as extreme, but it seems she is going to try. However, it’s not surprising that Hagan wants to focus on Tillis and not her own top legislative achievement, which is her vote for Obamacare and the 20 federal tax increases it imposed on North Carolinians.

A rally for Tillis supporters was held in Raleigh this past weekend (link). With state budget negotiations coming to a conclusion, North Carolina Republicans are now able to turn their attention to addressing the misinformation being spread by the Hagan campaign. Not all North Carolinians can keep their doctor under Obamacare, contrary to what President Obama and Sen. Hagan claimed. The good news is that they can elect a new senator this November.

Photo Credit: Mark Peterson

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NC Newspaper Issues Misguided Call for a Plastic Bag Ban

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Posted by Patrick Gleason, Jorge Marin on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014, 4:59 PM PERMALINK

Good intentions on the part of government officials often fail to beget good policy. Plastic Bag bans and taxes are no exception. While no statewide bag ban or tax has been imposed in the U.S., over 190 local bag taxes or outright prohibitions have, with Los Angeles being one of the most recent cities to go after plastic bags (never mind the City of Angels’ $7.7 billion unfunded liability).

This week the Raleigh News & Observer’s editorial board called on the Raleigh city council to impose either a tax or a ban on plastic shopping bags. Raleigh Councilman Bonner Gaylord recently indicated openness to a plastic bag ban or tax in North Carolina’s capital city. Such a proposal is misguided for a host of reasons that have been well-documented in other localities that have imposed such a policy.

Proponents of the plastic bag ban argue that by switching over to cheap reusable bags consumers can cut both costs and help preserve the environment. What they neglect to mention are the risks associated with the same reusable bags and the lack of connection between bag taxes and bans and litter reduction

A study on reusable shopping bags conducted by University of Arizona researchers found “Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half,” posing an obvious health risk to consumers. The problem? Only 3 percent of respondents reported to washing their bags on a regular basis. Giving the documented failure on the part of many to wash reusable bags whose use the New Observer’s proposal would either mandate or incentivize, The News & Observer’s dubious proposal would expose many to a new source of potential bacterial infection.

While the coercive utopians on the News & Observer editorial board consider limiting consumer choice for the benefit of our surroundings, there is actually very little evidence that plastic ban or tax would actually reduce litter, which is the stated goal of the proposal.

After San Francisco issued its own plastic bag ban, the first city in the country to do so, the amount of bag litter as a share of all trash actually increased according to a city-wide litter audit from 20 to 24 percent. Ireland, a model of plastic bag taxing, provides one of the more glaring examples of failure to mitigate plastic bag use. While it seems like there was some negligible improvement in the amount of plastic litter, plastic bag consumption actually went up by 20 percent as households switched to heavier plastic bags to use around their homes. Meanwhile paper bag litter increased by an astounding 400%.

The thing is, the single use plastic bags that the News & Observer claims to be a scourge to the city (with no supporting evidence) are anything but single use. Plastic shopping bags are not just used to carry around groceries; most people reuse them for all sorts of activities, such as lining bins, cleaning up after the family pet and transporting lunch and gym clothes. By making it more difficult to procure these little industrial marvels, Raleigh might simply be making their city less accommodating to low income families rather than more friendly to seagulls and fishes.

The fact is that a bag tax would disproportionately harm low and middle income Raleigh families, yet the News & Observer’s proposal has been met with silence by groups like Blue NC and legislative Democrats, who fashion themselves and defenders of the downtrodden.

For these reasons, the Raleigh City Council would be wise to discard the News & Observer’s advice. Even California Democrats, who usually love such stupid and onerous policies, weren’t so foolish.

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As Budget Deadline Looms, PA Lawmakers Look to Get Keystone State Out of the Booze Business

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Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

Pennsylvania taxpayers should keep an eye on the state capitol this week, as commonwealth legislators work to reach a final agreement on the new state budget. According to sources in the legislature, the House will vote on a budget as soon as today that would include a provision to end the state’s 80 year monopoly on alcohol wholesale and retail operations. Americans for Tax Reform applauds House members for including this commendable reform in their budget. This will generate $400 million for the commonwealth in a way that does not raise taxes on already heavily-burdened Pennsylvania taxpayers, who currently contend with the nation’s tenth highest state and local tax burden.

Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to close a $1 billion plus budget shortfall by next week’s budget deadline. However, Gov. Corbett indicated this week that he is prepared to go past the deadline if that is necessary to achieve needed pension reform and end the commonwealth’s archaic liquor monopoly. As ATR noted in a recent letter to Pennsylvania lawmakers, “There are numerous ways to balance the budget without resorting to tax hikes, but one of the best and most fiscally sound ways to work toward that goal is to get the state out of the liquor and wine business.” Ending the state liquor monopoly isn’t just good policy, it’s good politics, with recent polling finding widespread bipartisan support for liquor privatization.

ATR encourages the Pennsylvania Senate to follow the House’s lead in privatizing liquor and wine distribution and sales. The current state monopoly on the distribution and sales is clearly not a core function of government. It is amazing to have taken this long for even one legislative chamber to address it. If lawmakers in Harrisburg are able to balance the budget sans tax increases and get the state out of the liquor and wine business once and for all, members of the legislature will have a strong case to make to voters seeking fiscally responsible candidates in November who stand up for taxpayers.

With major issues like liquor privatization, pension reform, and paycheck protection all pending, Harrisburg is the state capitol to keep an eye on right now.


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ATR Urges PA Legislators to Get State Out of Liquor Business, Avoid Tax Hikes

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, June 5th, 2014, 4:54 PM PERMALINK

Pennsylvania state legislators are spending the month of June hammering out a 2014-2015 budget agreement. The topic of most concern: the estimated $1.3 billion projected budget deficit and how to address it. ATR applauds Governor Tom Corbett (R-Pa.) for making it abundantly clear earlier this week that increasing taxes is not the solution to this issue.

ATR sent a letter to Pennsylvania legislators today urging them to stand with Gov. Corbett in defense of Pennsylvania taxpayers and pass reasonable and fiscally responsible reform that will help balance the budget without higher taxes: ending Pennsylvania’s 80 year government monopoly on liquor and wine sales. Currently Pennsylvania is only one of two states where the government controls wine and spirits sales and distribution. By getting government out of the alcohol business, Pennsylvania can generate $1 billion for government coffers. The letter that ATR sent is as follows:



Dear Members of the Pennsylvania Legislature,


Governor Tom Corbett made clear this week that the budget should be balanced without raising taxes and I write today to encourage you to join him in standing up for Pennsylvania taxpayers. Your constituents have been hit with over 20 new or higher federal taxes by lawmakers in Washington over just the last four years and Pennsylvania taxpayers already contend with the 10th highest state and local tax burden in the country. In light of these facts and a weak economy that actually contracted in the first quarter of the year, the last thing Pennsylvania taxpayers and the commonwealth economy need are higher taxes imposed from Harrisburg.


There are numerous ways to balance the budget without resorting to tax hikes, but one of the best and most fiscally sound ways to work toward that goal is to get the state out of the liquor and wine business. It is estimated that selling off the state run alcohol stores could generate as much as $1 billion in revenue for the commonwealth. Aside from serving as a great way to balance the budget without taking more of Pennsylvania taxpayers’ hard-earned income, privatization is a good idea because wholesale distribution and retail sales of liquor and wine are simply not a core functions of government.


The House of Representatives commendably passed legislation (HB 790) last year to gradually get the government out of the alcohol business, and I urge the Senate to do likewise. However, a proposal that would only privatize wine sales is now under consideration. Make no mistake, a wine only privatization bill is not real reform and would keep the current state-run alcohol wholesale and retail system in place, at a cost of $400 million per year to Pennsylvania taxpayers.


Putting aside the numerous economic reasons for Pennsylvania to get out of the alcohol sales business, the commonwealth’s liquor and wine monopoly has begotten a breeding ground for corruption. For example, the state’s ethics commission recently found several Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board members guilty of taking gifts from PLCB vendors. As the Commonwealth Foundation accurately points out, “if government bureaucrats did not have the sole authority to determine what alcohol is sold in all the state’s liquor stores, businesses would have no incentive to bribe them with golf outings, fancy dinners, and free liquor.”


It’s time for the state’s 80 year monopoly on wine and spirits sales to end. If lawmakers could balance the budget this summer without tax increases, and get the state out of the liquor and wine sales business once and for all, members of the legislature would have a strong case to make to voters this fall who are looking for fiscally responsible candidates who will stand up for taxpayers. Americans for Tax Reform will be educating Pennsylvania taxpayers as to how their state senators and representatives vote on these important matters. If ATR can be of any assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Patrick Gleason, ATR’s Director of State Affairs, at 202-785-0266 or



Grover Norquist

President, Americans for Tax Reform


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Democrat States Hike Spending at Quadruple the Rate of GOP States

Posted by Patrick Gleason, Max Velthoven on Wednesday, May 21st, 2014, 9:17 AM PERMALINK

States under full Democrat control have increased total spending over 400 percent faster than states under full Republican control, according to a newly released analysis by Americans for Tax Reform.


Looking at the National Association of State Budget Officers’ most recent state expenditures report, ATR compared the growth in both General Fund and Total Expenditures from 2011 to 2013 in the 13 states where Democrats have unified control of the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, as well as the 24 states where the GOP has total control of state government. Key findings include:

- Significantly higher levels of growth in government spending in the 13 states where Democrats have unified control of the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature, compared with the 24 states where the GOP has total control of state government.

- General Fund Expenditures went up 6.25 percent over 2011-2013 in GOP-run states, whereas in Democrat-controlled states General Fund Expenditures went up 9.95 percent. This 3.7 point difference means that Democrat states increased general fund spending 59 percent faster than GOP states since 2010.  

- Total Expenditures increased 1.11 percent from 2011-2013 in Republican-run states, whereas Total Expenditures in Democrat-controlled states shot up by 5.55 percent. This 4.44 percent difference means that Democrat-controlled states increased total spending over 400 percent faster than in Republican-run states.

-10 Republican states actually decreased their total expenditures from 2011 to 2013, whereas all Democrat states increased theirs.

This spending analysis follows the release of a recent ATR report on state tax changes since the 2010 election, which found that Democrat governors had enacted nearly 60 billion dollars in tax increases since 2011, while Republican governors have cut taxes by $38 billion during that same period.

It seems the term tax and spend liberal isn’t just a cliché. Based on the numbers, if Democrats run your state government, it means, on average, higher taxes and more spending than if Republicans are in charge of state government. 



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Kay Hagan's Vote for Obamacare May Cost North Carolina over 74,000 jobs

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014, 11:45 AM PERMALINK

Earlier this week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report which shows that Obamacare may cost the economy the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs by 2024. That is a lot of lost income and economic growth for the nation. Today, ATR released analysis of the CBO report and Bureau of Labor Statistics data that breaks down the impact by state.

North Carolina, home to one of top 2014 battleground senate races, may lose 74,469 jobs over the next decade thanks to Obamacare. It will certainly be interesting to see Senator Kay Hagan explain how she stands by her vote for Obamacare, even though it will result in the destruction of tens of thousands of jobs across the Tar Heel State.

It will also make for quite the contrast with her likely Republican opponent, North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis. Hagan’s top legislative achievement in Congress, her vote for Obamacare, includes 20 new or higher taxes and destroy jobs in-state. Standing in stark contrast, Tillis’s top accomplishment in the legislature, the tax reform plan that went into effect last month, is providing tax relief to North Carolinians of all incomes and is widely popular.

Votes matter, and Kay Hagan’s vote for Obamacare is likely to be the central issue of the 2014 North Carolina Senate race. For the full breakdown of Obamacare job losses by state, click here.

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Note to Ed Rendell: Spending Restraint, Not Kidnapping, is the Way to Fund Transportation

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 5th, 2014, 10:02 AM PERMALINK

Yesterday, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell made headlines for proposing that the best way to pass higher taxes is to kidnap Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist. The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard first reported on Rendell’s remarks, which were made on a Bloomberg Government conference panel that also featured former Transportation Department Secretary Ray LaHood:

Without more money to fix America’s roads, ports and airports, “our backs are against the wall,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, the Democratic Party leader from 1999-2001. “What alternative to we have? I mean, kidnap Grover Norquist? What alternative do we have?” he said.

Norquist responded by pointing out that a better approach would be to repeal laws that artificially inflate the cost of transportation projects:

“If I might suggest an alternative to kidnapping me and raising taxes on the American people, Rendell should help ATR repeal costly federal labor mandates that inflate the cost of construction projects,” Norquist told Secrets. “Let’s repeal the Davis-Bacon Act and get rid of Project Labor Agreements which would free up $10 billion annually. You can build a lot of roads with that.”

However, if Rendell wants to know who to blame insufficient transportation funding, he can start by looking in the mirror. During Ed Rendell’s time as governor, the Pennsylvania government spent $417 billion. Had spending growth been limited to the rate of growth in population and inflation, a key metric of fiscal sustainability, Pennsylvania would’ve spent $51 billion less during the Rendell administration.

Simply put, had Rendell governed in a fiscal responsible and sustainable manor, Pennsylvania would have billions in savings to spend on transportation infrastructure upkeep and expansion. This would be a preferable approach from a policy standpoint and, as opposed to kidnapping Grover Norquist, has the advantage of not being a class A felony.

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Despite funding from out of state billionaires, Colorado voters reject massive tax hike

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013, 4:37 PM PERMALINK

While much of the media’s attention has been on the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial elections, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) points to the defeat of Amendment 66 in Colorado, which would have replaced the state’s flat income tax with a progressive system and raised the top rate by a whopping 27 percent, as one of the most important outcomes of the 2013 elections. The measure was rejected by 66.2 percent of voters.

ATR worked in the run up to Tuesday’s election to educate the public on the adverse impact that would’ve resulted from passage of such a massive tax hike, especially at a time when other states are moving in the opposite direction, lowering and flattening taxes. ATR’s analysis of IRS data last month showed that, in addition to taking more money from individuals and families, Amendment 66 would’ve raised taxes on over half a million small businesses in Colorado, greatly reducing their job-creating capacity.

This is just the latest failed effort to tax “the rich.”  In 2010, a ballot measure that would have imposed a state income tax for the first time ever in blue Washington state and only been applied to the wealthiest one percent of Washington residents was also overwhelmingly defeated by a 2-1 margin.

Despite millions of dollars coming in from out-of-state billionaires like Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg in support of this job-killing tax hike, Colorado voters overwhelmingly rejected Amendment 66 by a 2-1 margin. This shows that even in Democrat-run states like Colorado, voters have no tolerance for higher state taxes on top of the more than 20 tax hikes that President Obama has signed into law in recent years. 

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Americans for Tax Reform Urges Colorado Voters to Reject Amendment 66

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, November 4th, 2013, 10:20 PM PERMALINK

In a matter of hours, Colorado voters will head to the polls to decide the fate of Amendment 66, the controversial ballot measure that would, if approved, scrap Colorado’s 4.63% flat income tax and replace it with a progressive system that would have the state taking 5% of income earned by households making less than $75,000 and 5.9% of all incomes in excess of that. This 27% increase in the top state income tax rate would siphon approximately $1 billion from the Colorado economy every year.

By adversely affecting those employers responsible for the majority of job creation in the state, Amendment 66 would be detrimental to Colorado's economic health. As ATR pointed out in an analysis of IRS data last month, over half a million Colorado small businesses file under the individual income tax system and would see their taxes go up and their job-creating capacity significantly reduced if Amendment 66 is approved.

Proponents of Amendment 66 portray it as a tax increase on the rich. Yet a recent report by the non-partisan Tax Foundation found that this massive tax hike would hit lower and middle-income families particularly hard. A taxpayer earning $50,000 annually would pay nearly $110 more in taxes per year, which is the average monthly cost of heating a home in Colorado during the state’s cold winter months.

With individuals, families, and employers across Colorado struggling to cope with the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, along with the more than 20 tax hikes President Obama has signed into law in just the past five years, the last thing that they need is a massive increase in their state tax burden.

ATR urges Colorado voters to reject Amendment 66

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Amendment 66 would hurt small businesses across Colorado

Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, 6:05 AM PERMALINK

How the federal government shutdown and debt ceiling standoff in Washington will conclude is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain; taxes won’t increase as part of whatever deal is worked out. So, most Americans can rest assured that their taxes won’t be going up in the near future, with the exception of folks who live in Colorado.

In just a few short weeks, Colorado voters will head to the polls to decide whether to raise the state income tax. Amendment 66, which will appear on the Nov. 5th ballot, would, if approved by voters, raise the state income tax, which currently sits at a flat 4.63 percent, to 5 percent on income below $75,000 and 5.9 on incomes above that amount.

Amendment 66 represents a 27 percent increase in the top income tax rate in Colorado and its supporters portray it as a tax increase on the wealthy. However, not only would Amendment 66 raise taxes on all workers, starting at dollar one, this tax increase would also be borne by Colorado small businesses.

According to IRS data, 417,698 small businesses in Colorado filed under the individual income tax system in 2011 (the most recent year for which data is available). However, this figure only accounts for sole proprietors. When factoring in S-Corps & partnerships that also pay the individual income tax, an upwards of approximately 550,000 Colorado small businesses would see their taxes go up and their job-creating capacity significantly reduced if Amendment 66 is approved.

In light of this, it’s not surprising that a recent NFIB poll of Colorado small businesses found that 96 percent were opposed to Amendment 66. Tax Foundation economist Liz Malm explains how Amendment 66 would raise taxes on engine of economic growth and job creation in Colorado:

“A majority of firms within Colorado are what we call "pass-throughs" because their business income tax is ‘passed through’ to individual owner, rather than paid by the actual business entity itself. According to a 2011 Ernst and Young study, 95 percent of firms in Colorado are pass-throughs. Amendment 66 would raise taxes on all of them.”

Small businesses in Colorado and across the U.S. just saw their taxes go up on January 1st of this year with the expiration of Bush era tax rates. After that and the more than 20 new or higher federal taxes signed into law by President Obama in just the last five years, the last thing Colorado employers need is another massive tax increase at the state level. Yesterday, the Denver-based Independence Institute released a report detailing how a 27 percent income tax hike would harm the Colorado economy and do nothing to improve public education.

Americans for Tax Reform urges Colorado voters to reject Amendment 66 and will be working over the next month to educate the public on the adverse consequences that would result from its passage.



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