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Increased spending, not tax reductions, have helped put the pinch on the state budget, House Minority Leader Richard Morgan told a conservative group lobbying the Legislature on Tuesday.
"Some people would like to blame the tax cuts while our side was on the watch," Morgan told about 400 people attending a rally sponsored by Citizens for a Sound Economy. "I would be happy for them to try to make that argument.
"It is the increase in spending that has put our state in the hole," said Morgan, R-Moore, who signed a pledge circulated by the group calling for no tax increases through 2002.
Chuck Fuller, the state director for CSE, said the group would lobby for the "people's agenda," which includes no tax increases, affordable health care, cable television competition, annexation rights and barring frivolous lawsuits against teachers.
"The people's agenda is a commonsense agenda," said Senate Minority Leader Patrick Ballantine, R-New Hanover. "It makes perfect sense to have government that is less intrusive, but works. None of us are anarchists; we want government to work, but work more efficiently with the resources it has."
Although few Democrats wandered through the CSE tent for a free lunch, former U.S. Sen. Lauch Faircloth said the group is nonpartisan.
"We do not care what party you are," he told the crowd. "What we're after is independent-thinking conservatives who believe as we do."
Faircloth also railed against lawsuits and threats to property rights.
"In every area today, we are being lawsuited to death," Faircloth said. "They 've just finished the tobacco companies; now they're going after HMOs. If we don 't curb the trial lawyers with some kind of tort reform, we are going to have many problems."
Government also is intruding on property rights, he said.
"The worst offender is EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency)," he said. "They have no conscience. If they can find a three-toed pig gnat, they'll take half the country to protect him."