The candidates for NC Senate District 1 engaged in an impromptu debate last week at the offices of the Washington Daily News.  Democrat Senator Marc Basnight, the twelve-term incumbent and President Pro Tem of the Senate accepted the debate challenge posed by his opponent, Republican Hood Richardson, the four-term Beaufort County Commissioner.  The Washington Daily news is posting the debate in a series of three installments. In the first installment, the candidates showed their differences on economic issues.

Asked how he would balance the state budget next year in light of a projected $3.2 Billion budget shortfall, Senator Basnight said that the shortfall will not be made up by reducing spending.  He favors increasing taxes.  Extending the temporary hike on income and sales taxes is an option.  He is also in favor of a new tax on legal and other personal services, saying,

“Would I consider it? Absolutely I would.”

He would also consider a hike in the corporate tax rate.

“Would I consider corporate taxes? On a sliding scale, yes.”

Hood Richardson, on the other hand, is against any tax increase to close the budget gap.

“I will not go to Raleigh and vote to impose a new tax on the people of the state of North Carolina to balance this particular budget.”

Mr. Richardson would rather look at ways to reduce expenses.  One way to do that is to return illegal immigrants to their home country.  This would save money on both education and welfare.  Another option is eliminating unnecessary programs like More at Four.  Medicaid benefits should also be on the table.

“The public is not generally aware that the state has a big say in how large those Medicaid benefits are and in exactly what the benefits are going to be,”

To see the entire exchange, click here