The political poker continued Thursday as the Senate debated a $20.1 billion budget approved along party lines. The budget now goes to the House.
A day following a Democratic play to get Republicans to affirm their support for what Democrats have dubbed the "tax cut for millionaires," Republican Sen. Bob Rucho challenged Democrats to vote for the 3/4-cent sales tax increase that Gov. Bev Perdue proposed and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton supported.
The increase would allow Democrats to continue their "tax and spend" policies, Rucho said.
On Wednesday, Democrats tried to get a vote to limit a new $3,500 tax cut to businesses with incomes of $100,000 or less, and use the revenue from excluding bigger and wealthier businesses for schools and eugenics compensation. Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to avoid the vote.
Sen. Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, said Rucho would rather tax everyday people rather the rich.
"Apparently, Sen. Rucho thinks this is a good idea," Blue said. "You tax rank-and-file North Carolinians rather than taxing these millionaires that he excluded in the last session."
The tax increase proposal died in a unanimous vote.
This all takes on added importance in an election year, with Republicans trying to tie Perdue to Dalton, the Democratic candidate for governor.
Senate leader Phil Berger's office sent out this statement after the vote.
“It is clear the Perdue/Dalton tax plan is nothing more than an election year gimmick to allow Democrats to speak out of both sides of their mouth," Berger said. "The fact that every single member of the Senate voted against the tax hike shows what a bad idea it is.
Update: The House unanimously rejected the Senate version of the state budget. That means negotiating teams of House members and senators will get together to work out a compromise.