Il meglio è nemico del bene (The better is enemy of the good), has been attested as an Italian proverb since 1603. The phrase was later popularized by Voltaire as, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
Chair’s note – The U.S. Constitution stands as the bedrock of our country. For clarity on this inspired document’s importance, note that shaky bedrock is typically called an ‘earthquake.’ Similarly, the official Republican Platform stands as the foundation of our Party. In challenging times and circumstance, that’s where we can best find traction and the underpinning for the unity that is so crucial to our future and that of our country.
This week’s passage of the Buncombe County Budget has generated a mixture of emotions in respect to the actions of our three Republican representatives – Commissioners Fryar, Belcher and Pressley. Responses have run the gamut from frustration (How can Republicans agree to another tax increase) to applause (They’re in the minority and made a good effort to hold the line).
For clarity, the Executive Board has gone to our Party Platform. Here are a few relevant guidelines—
NC REPUBLICAN PARTY PLATFORM
Article II. The Economy
1) Recognizing that wealth creation is the product of human enterprise, the free enterprise system is the most effective and just economic system in the world. It creates opportunity, rewards self-reliance and hard work, and unleashes productivity that other societies can only imagine. It is an engine of charity, making America the most philanthropic nation on earth. Government should encourage honest, productive work through elimination of both gratuitous regulations and excessive taxation.
2) …encouraging economic growth through reduced regulation and taxation, and we oppose corporate welfare.
3) …government should tax only to raise money for its constitutional functions. We support a thorough review of expenditures each year, and we support a taxpayer’s bill of rights. We support the continuation of reforming the tax code to encourage economic growth that moves toward a system that taxes the broadest possible base of economic activity at the lowest possible rates.
By these measures, it understandable that some Buncombe Republicans are disappointed that our Party’s Platform did not have a stronger place at the Commissioner’s table. That matters – so does Voltaire’s suggestion that we not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
There are some facts about the County Budget that might ease the tension a bit as we all work together to strengthen our connection to our platform and broaden our footprint on the future of our community—
· Unchanged, the tax rate would have been 60.4 – the first proposal was for 57.2 – the second was 55.9 – revenue neutral would have been 51.3 – thanks to the persistency of our 3 Republican voices, the final rate was 53.9. That matters because without their voices it is assured that the final rate would have been much higher. Watch what happens in the 7-0 environment of Asheville for affirmation of such.
· Per the persistence of our Republican representatives the following happened—
1) Core services remained the budgetary priority over giveaways
2) Public safety got a boost versus a boot suggested by others
3) An approved resolution was championed by Commissioner Pressley to raise the homestead exemption for the elderly
4) Pack Place contribution was cut in half
5) Secured $7 million in recurring savings
6) Non-profit payouts were actually reduced
7) New dollars were invested in Candler, Sandy Mush, Leicester, etc. – communities that typically are ignored
8) Fund balance was used for non-recurring items to hold the line on the tax rate.
9) Teachers got their promised raise
10) The increased revenue from sales taxes and new private sector construction were outed in budgetary discussion
These are all good things and you can bet the conservative fingers of our Republican reps helped it happen.
There’s always another side to the coin. A cursory review of the budget reveals a whole lot of money going into a hyper-expanding county government that has us undersigning a half-billion dollars in debt. The Republican Platform on government can be reduced to one phrase – When government gets bigger, normal people get smaller. This budget has made us all a little smaller.
This is an especially tough year for many Buncombe County residents because the tax increase will come on the heels of a higher property reevaluation. Future county tax bills resulting from this budget will raise the burden and awareness of a growing number of citizens. It’s important that the Buncombe Republican Party seize that frustration as an opportunity. To do so we have to successfully demonstrate that we are a Party that merits their support – and our Republican elected officials are sincere to our promises as represented in our official Party Platform.
In that regard, we would offer that Commissioners Fryar, Belcher and Pressley have done Voltaire’s ‘good.’ As regards the standards of our Party’s Platform, they are in a position to do better.
How can we help them do that? Build a Buncombe Republican Party that is as sincere to our responsibilities as we are asking them to be to theirs…