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Gary and John Hood of the Locke Foundation are having a little debate about the Blue Ribbon Commission. I recently read the Commission’s report. It says Wake County’s population is going to double in twenty-five years and, as a result, we’re going to have to spend a whole lot of money on schools, streets, sewers and so on. The committee suggested property tax increases, sales tax increases, toll roads and borrowing as ways to pay the costs.

But here’s what I don’t understand: Are those of us who live in Raleigh, now, going to have to pay for the new schools, sewers, and roads for the 634,000 people who are going to move here by 2030? Won’t those people be paying taxes like the rest of us? If the population doubles, doesn’t that mean tax revenues will more or less double too? And won’t that help pay for new roads and schools?

Back in the 1990’s, when Raleigh had Republican Mayors, growth was seen as a key to holding down taxes. Tens of thousands of people moved to Raleigh back then and taxes didn’t go up. Now, suddenly, in the 2000’s, Raleigh has a Democratic Mayor and growth has become a reason for raising taxes. Yes, more people mean more roads. But they also mean more taxpayers. So, growth doesn’t automatically mean taxes have to go up.

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