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.
The sales tax increase would raise $1.1 billion, the organization said, and the income tax increase on millionaires would raise $76 million in new revenue. Together NC proposes expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit from 5 percent to 10 percent, which would cost about $107 million.
Speakers at a news conference said state budget cuts were hurting education and public infrastructure.
"We cannot and we need not balance the budget on our children's backs," said Beth Messersmith, coordinator of state chapter of MomsRising.org.
House budget writers are expected to release their proposal this week.
Nancy Cox, a Durham Board of Education member, said local money is being used to fill gaps left by state budget cuts, but the county still has second and third grade classes with 27 students, too few assistant principals, and increased class sizes in Advanced Placement courses. High schools have had to eliminate sections of AP classes and alternate AP courses year to year.
When it comes to education, "scraping by should not be the goal," she said.