On budgets and honesty in government

Today, Jim Blaine, the Chief of Staff of the President Pro Tem of the NC Senate, the most powerful non-elected person in North Carolina government, should be focused on shepherding an abominable budget bill through his house. Instead, he’s heckling me on Twitter about the budget vote I cast three months ago. That would be the Wake County Budget we passed on time, with no extensions, after posting the budget online for over a month, and after nearly 7 hours of public hearings.

He told me to “man up and own my tax hike.”

OK,  Done. I own it.

You can see on this website the priorities I ran on in 2014.

Here’s an article and a post where I discussed exactly what I wanted in a budget.

Here’s an interview I did discussing the various priorities of a County budget.

And here’s an article discussing the budget that passed, with my support, but which I worked hard on to keep the tax increase reasonable.

And here’s my Facebook post the day of the vote, in which I said Yes, I voted to raise property taxes.

So, I’m not really sure how much more “owning” Mr. Blaine wants me to do. I told people what I was going to do. They voted for me. I did it. I fought to keep it reasonable and define what was being paid for with the increase. Then I voted for it. Then I gave a speech about it, published it on my Facebook page, and invited public comment.

And you know what? People seem ok with it.

Why? Well, first of all because the voters of Wake County are smart. They knew what was needed in this budget, and they were willing to pay for it. But I also hope that they are ok with it because they know I was honest about what I was going to do, and I followed through. I didn’t cook the books in secret meetings. I didn’t spring a budget on the people who had to vote for it less than 12 hours before the vote. And I didn’t claim to be lowering taxes when I was really raising them. No, that’s what the NC Senate does.

I’m happy to own my budget vote. I’m also happy to hold up Wake County as a model of good government and follow-through. A government that encourages its people to have a voice in their own government, and then does something amazing: listens to them.

Honesty and responsiveness in government. It’s what we do in Wake County. Maybe the North Carolina legislature should try it.

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