Anti-tax Rally Targets Legislature

George Alan Esworthy, a software engineer from Apex, joined an anti-tax rally in front of the General Assembly on Monday carrying a Navy flag used to signal other ships to attack the enemy. On the striped flag was a snake and the motto “Don’t tread on me.”

“I’m angry,” Esworthy said. “The politicians keep telling us we have a shortfall. That’s a lie, We have an overspending problem. I keep getting angrier because they just don’t get the message.”

Sue Eaton, a Raleigh homemaker, held up a protest sign that announced that anyone paying attention should be outraged.

“I’m sick of being taxed,” Eaton said. “They need to learn how to spend responsibly. I’m not going to sit at home anymore.”

Esworthy and Eaton were among about 150 people who turned out to chant anti-tax slogans and sip iced tea at an anti-tax “tea party” organized by the John Locke Foundation and North Carolina Citizens for a Sound Economy, two groups that favor reducing taxes. It’s one of three such rallies that the groups are staging across the state before the General Assembly returns in late May to confront a budget gap in excess of $1.2 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The demonstrators shouted “No new taxes” at the Legislative Building and then at the governor’s office.

Democratic legislative leaders have said they don’t expect to raise taxes this year, which is an election year. The speakers said they had heard similar remarks last year, but then the legislature raised taxes about $1 billion over two years.

Jonathan Hill, state director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, told the group that he expects Democratic Gov. Mike Easley to include $300 million in revenues from a state lottery in his proposed budget, although voters haven’t approved a lottery.

“That $300 million is hogwash,” Hill said. “He’s giving them an unbalanced budget.”

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