Leading from the Left

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Realtors vs. Education

This will get your blood pumping. At least it did mine. I can't remember when I was angrier at a special interest group...or more disappointed in the State Senate.

The NC Association of Realtors single-handedly managed to scuttle an agreement between the State House and State Senate that would have allowed county's to vote to establish a real estate transfer tax of .4%. The proceeds of this tax would have been used for the schools.

According to legislative insiders, the Realtors' threatened to defeat Democratic Senators who represent swing districts if the Senate supported a transfer tax. Cowardice won the day, and the Senate caved into these blackmail threats. Check out Chris Fitzsimon's essay on this situation here.

It's disappointing, to say the least, that the Senate couldn't stand up to this kind of threat for two reasons. First, an individual county ought to have the power to decide to tax themselves as they see fit. If a county, like Orange, has significant school needs that would benefit from implementing a transfer tax, then what's the harm in allowing that county to exert self-determination? Over a half dozen counties in NC already have transfer taxes and the sky has not fallen. This option should be extended to the rest of the state.

Second, the Senate shows its weakness when they so quickly cave into threats such as those made by the Realtors. The Realtors proved they have the power to stop legislation in the Senate; and the Senate proved they will bend to the whims of a special interest lobby. It's not a good week for the people of North Carolina.