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Morning Memo: Amid crossover, the unfinished tax plan takes center stage

HOUSE TO UNVEIL TAX PLAN OUTLINE:House Republicans plan to offer their own North Carolina tax overhaul plan Thursday that would reduce personal and corporate income tax rates and expand the sales tax to cover more services. The proposal's scope is much narrower than what Senate counterparts offered as GOP legislators try to fulfill a commitment to carry out tax reform this year.

The plan attempts to simplify income taxes and reduces the number of income tax brackets from three to one, according to the proposed legislation obtained by The Associated Press. House Republican leaders want to reduce slightly the combined state and local sales tax consumers in most counties pay from 6.75 percent to 6.65 percent. They also would subject the sales tax to a handful of new services such as automobile repairs and installations for personal property and warranty and service contracts, the bill says. In contrast, the Senate proposal unveiled last week would make the sales tax base one of the broadest in the country. More here.

NORQUIST TO BLESS SENATE TAX EFFORT: Americans for Tax Reform leader Grover Norquist will stand with Senate leader Phil Berger at a 9:30 a.m. press conference Thursday to talk about the Senate's tax rewrite. The visit is being coordinated by Americans for Prosperity, an advocacy group that pushing hard for a major tax overhaul measure this session. Opposition groups already are framing the visit, saying Norquist will support a bill that could raise taxes on a majority of people in the long-term. A luncheon with tax activists outside the legislature will follow later in the day.

Good Morning! This Dome Morning Memo is (unofficially) brought to you by Krispy Kreme donuts and coffee -- which is much needed after the House worked near midnight to beat the crossover deadline on a bevy of controversial bills in a 10-hour session. If you went to bed early, click below for all the North Carolina political news and analysis.***

Morning Memo: Money in politics, guns in bars

THE NAKED REALITY OF POLITICS: Much of politics is about money. But it's rare to see it so plainly stated in black and white: "We didn't give them money because we liked them," sweepstakes operator William George told the Associated Press. "We just knew they were powerful people up in Raleigh and they could get done what we wanted to get done. You give them your money and they're supposed to do what they say they're going to do." (More on the story below.)

TODAY IN POLITICS: The current State Board of Elections meets for the final time at 9 a.m. today before Gov. Pat McCrory's new appointees take office Wednesday. The board had planned to launch a formal investigation into the gambling money -- received by the governor, top GOP legislative leaders and some Democrats. But board members backed off the idea now that they are lame ducks.

AT THE STATEHOUSE: A House committee will consider a bill to limit pre-K programs, in part to children under the federal poverty line. The full House meets at 2 p.m. and will consider a controversial firearms bill to allow guns in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. The UNC system is also opposed because it allows guns in cars on college campuses. The Senate will meet at 2 p.m. On its calendar is a measure to require a parent to report a child missing after 24 hours -- it is named after Caylee Anthony. Gov. Pat McCrory is attending two feel-good events Tuesday in Charlotte, first a YMCA prayer breakfast and then a Wells Fargo "Reading Above Par" event.

***More on the sweepstakes money, arrests at the legislature and Jamie Hahn death investigation below in today's Dome Morning Memo -- the place for North Carolina political news and analysis.***

In video, realtors association vows to fight 'home tax'

The N.C. Association of Realtors is sending a message to Republican lawmakers considering a tax overhaul: don't hike the real estate transfer tax.

Senate Republicans put the item on the table in the debate. And now the association is responding with a new web video that signals it is prepared to fight the tax plan is the transfer tax is included.

Cartoon: Walter Dalton's idea of 'tax reform'

Charlotte Observer's editorial cartoonist Kevin Siers watched the final gubernatorial debate it appears.

He pokes at Democrat Walter Dalton for his shifting his positions on a sales tax hike for education.

But for Dalton's sake, at least Siers found him interesting enough to draw a face this time.

RGA ad attacks Walter Dalton for third time on sales tax proposal

The Republican Governors Association is airing a TV ad in North Carolina that attacks Walter Dalton for his one-time support for a sales tax hike -- the third such commercial from the group on the issue.

The 30-second spot starts with a clip of the Democratic candidate for governor criticizing Pat McCrory's tax plan, saying it could lead to higher sales taxes. And then hits Dalton for previously supporting a three-quarter of a penny sales tax for schools pitched by Gov. Bev Perdue earlier this year.

Walter Dalton appears to shift his talk on a sales tax hike

Democrat Walter Dalton said his first budget plan if elected governor will not include a sales tax increase to fund education, an apparent shift on a key issue in the campaign. But at the same time, Dalton is refusing to rule out a sales tax hike in future years.

“What I have always said is I don’t like the cuts to education; it wasn’t about embracing the tax,” Dalton said in an interview Thursday. “But it was a way to resolve it and I supported the extension of three-quarters of a penny sales tax to get us through the tough times.”

Earlier this year, as he campaigned for the Democratic primary nomination, Dalton backed a proposal pushed by Gov. Bev Perdue and legislative Democrats to increase the sales tax to provide more money to schools hit hard by the recent state budget cuts. He saw it as an “extension” of the one-cent sales tax levy that expired last year.

Together NC for $1 billion in sales/income tax increases

Together NC, a coalition of more than 100 non profits, businesses, unions and trade associations, proposed $1 billion in sales and state income tax increases to restore job and program cuts.

The proposal goes beyond the 3/4-cent sales tax increase Gov. Bev Perdue proposed last week. Together NC suggested raising the sales tax by one penny and adding an 8.5 percent tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million a year. 

The ideas have no chance in the Republican-led legislature, which last year batted away any suggestions to keep part of a temporary sales tax increase. 

"We're not here because we try to do the politically easy thing," said Louisa Warren, a Together NC coordinator.

Sales tax increase, higher school spending in Perdue's proposed budget

The proposed budget Gov. Bev Perdue releases tomorrow will include a sales tax increase and an additional $562 million for K-12 schools.

Her proposed budget will total about $20.9 billion. A 3/4-cent sales tax increase is expected to raise $760 million over 11 months, or $850 million a year.

Republican legislative leaders have said repeatedly they do not intend to raise taxes.

Perdue's proposed education budget increase would make up for the loss of $258 million in federal "edu-jobs' money, and reverse the "flex cuts"  school districts had to take last year and are built in to next year's budget.  The $562 million would pay for 11,000 additional jobs in schools, and would be enough to reduce class sizes in kindergarten through third grades. Total K-12 spending would rise to about $8 billion.

Notebook: Bob Etheridge takes campaign to Clayton but few notice

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge, a Democratic candidate for governor, stopped in Clayton Tuesday morning, stopping to greet folks at Jones Lunch downtown. For a reporter's notebook, Eastern Wake News editor Johnny Whitfield sends along this:

The crowd included people who came to eat breakfast and others who had been called by the Etheridge campaign. Etheridge mostly spent his time talking to people who had been called and virtually no time talking to the "regular" people in the restaurant. Two operatives sat nearby at a table collecting checks from donors.

When Etheridge tried to make formal comments, the only people who listened were those who came specifically to see him -- about 12 to 15 people. All the rest of the folks in the restaurant ignored him and continued their own conversations, sometimes laughing so loud you couldn't even hear Etheridge.

Does N.C. support sales tax hike? It depends.

When it comes to political issue polling, the devil is often in the details -- in this case, the wording of the question.

Two recent polls asked voters whether they support or oppose a proposal to increase the state's 4.75 percent sales tax by three-quarters of a penny. One showed support. The other revealed opposition. The difference is in the question.

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