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General Assembly Update
Early last week, Senate leadership announced that they would pull several controversial policy issues out of the state budget negotiations and pursue them through other vehicles. They hoped that removing those impediments could lead to a compromise budget by Aug. 15 when the current continuing resolution expires. Among the provisions moved through other means is the sales tax redistribution plan that would have a devastating impact on Mecklenburg and its municipalities. The Senate modified that plan to a 50/50 per capita/point of sale split from their previous attempt to alter the distribution to 80/20 per capita/point of sale. That proposal was dropped into H117 along with a number of other proposals that they believe will appeal to House members and the governor. The latest proposal would cost Mecklenburg between $60 and $75 million over the next four years.
I'd like to address one important point being made by Senate leadership. They claim that a move to 50/50 distribution returns the allocation structure to where it was prior to the 2007 Medicaid swap. This is a drastic oversimplification of the Medicaid swap. That negotiated legislation only changed the distribution of the current local sales tax because it also took a 1/2 cent local sales tax and reallocated it to the state (along with county Medicaid expenses). If that sales tax had remained in place, it would have generated more than $40 million for Mecklenburg County government this year. Without shifting the distribution to 25/75 per capita/point of sale, commercial centers across the state would have lost in the deal. Even with the reallocation, rural counties were big winners in the swap since some of them had been spending close to 15 percent of their county budget on Medicaid.
Also in H117 is a provision that will fully exempt airline fuel from sales taxes. Under current law, all airlines pay sales tax on fuel up to $2.5 million per year. Currently, only American Airlines reaches that cap. Under the proposed Senate legislation, not only would American pay $0 in sales tax on airline fuel instead of $2.5 million, but no other airline would pay sales tax, either. The commercial aircraft sales tax exclusion will cost the County approximately $1.5 million per year – total County and City of Charlotte – $2.2 million.
Finally, as I shared with you last week, a proposal is floating around the legislature to cancel the I-77 toll road and withhold sales tax distributions from Mecklenburg County, Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson and Mooresville until the exit fee on the current contract is met. That fee is estimated to be about $100 million. The proposal was distributed in a Friday afternoon House Rules committee meeting, but was not introduced nor discussed. We will continue to monitor this potential legislation and apprise you of any developments.
I will be traveling to Raleigh tomorrow to meet with legislators about these issues. Back-to-School Immunization Clinics
To help kids prepare for back-to-school, Mecklenburg County Health Department is partnering with the Junior League of Charlotte to host Big Shot Saturdays, a chance for parents to get their kids “up to date” with required vaccinations without having to miss work or sit in a crowded waiting room.
North Carolina law mandates that all Charlotte-Mecklenburg school-aged children be up-to-date with their shots in order to be enrolled in school. Children who do not have the minimum immunization by the Sept. 25, 2015 deadline will not be allowed to attend school.
This year Big Shot Saturdays will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
Parents are reminded to bring their child’s official shot records and at least one form of identification. The first 150 children will be given immunizations on a first-come, first-served basis, with school-aged kids given priority. Some fees may be charged for certain vaccines.
Parents can always make an appointment for vaccinations by calling the Health Department appointment line at 704-336-6500. Park and Rec’s Annual Hummingbird Festival Set for this Weekend
Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation will host its annual Hummingbird Festival this Saturday, Aug. 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Reedy Creek Nature Center.
The free event provides a great opportunity to get a close up view of these tiny creatures and features several activities for the entire family including:
Food trucks and vendors will also be on-site.
You can learn more about the festival at www.parkandrec.com.