North Carolina's Taxpayer Information Act: A Model for the Nation
North Carolina has been in the media recently for all the wrong reasons, whether it be the state Democratic Party scandal or the John Edwards trial. It is time for the media and the public to talk about the right reasons that attention should be paid to the Tar Heel State, namely that the state is home to one of the most pro-taxpayer pieces of legislation ever crafted.
The aforementioned legislation is The Taxpayer Information Act (HB 315), and it is the brainchild of NC Speaker Pro Tem and candidate for Lt. Governor, Dale Folwell. The Taxpayer Information Act is about truth in advertising and transparency. The bill, if passed, would require that bond measures disclose to voters not only the debt to be authorized, but the interest that would be incurred on that debt, which taxpayers will ultimately be on the hook for.
Currently, bond measures only have to disclose how much debt would be authorized. Picture a couple going out to eat at one of their favorite restaurants because it is offering a great $60 dinner for two deal. Yet when they get the check at the end of the night the waiter tells them that they actually owe $90 bucks. When they inquire how this could have happened, they are told that the advertised price did not include gratuity, tax, and some silly environmental charge that the restaurant knew would be assessed the whole time. The couple is right to feel cheated and deceived. Yet the hypothetical restaurant’s deceptive tactics are analogous to those used by proponents of bond proposals not just in North Carolina, but all over the country. The result is voters being fooled into approving new public debt without being told the true cost that taxpayers will be on the hook for.
As Speaker Pro Tem Folwell astutely noted in committee, his bill is about “Trust, and whether the taxpayers who are asked to approve debt deserve to have the same information that the local government commission has, that the bond counsel has, and that underwriters of bonds have.”
Americans for Tax Reform couldn’t agree more. Voters deserve to have the same information that local governments have when they propose bond measures and taxpayers deserve to know how much they would really be on the hook for. Mortgage providers are required to tell borrowers the true cost that they are incurring, both the principal and interest. Taxpayers should expect no less when government seeks to borrow on their behalf.
When the North Carolina General Assembly comes back into session next month, ATR will be urging North Carolina legislators to pass Folwell’s bill, which is currently pending before the House Finance Committee. North Carolina government could use a dose of sunshine, and Speaker Pro Tem Folwell’s bill will provide just that.
The Taxpayer Information Act isn’t just good for North Carolina, it’s a model that every state should follow. As the father of this brilliant pro-taxpayer legislation, Speaker Pro Tem Folwell is a true hero of the taxpayer.
Folwell also happens to be the only taxpayer champion running for Lt. Governor. As it stands, Folwell is the only candidate in the race who has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. In doing so, Folwell is the only candidate in the race who has committed to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes on hardworking North Carolinians.
With the largest federal tax increase in American history scheduled to hit the Old North State in less than nine short months, North Carolinians need to elect candidates like Speaker Pro Tem Folwell, who put taxpayers, and not spending interests, first. North Carolinians would be hard pressed to do better than to make Speaker Pro Tem Folwell the next Lt. Governor.