Public Papers and Letters of Oliver Max Gardner: Governor of North Carolina, 1929-1933

By Edwin Gill; David Leroy Corbitt | Go to book overview

The governor said:

"Of one conclusion I am absolutely certain: taxes on property must be reduced. And we must go further. When we provide to cut taxes here in Raleigh, we must also make provision that the cut be positively felt in the pocketbook of the taxpayer back home."

Of course, the governor's message to the 1931 General Assembly dealt with many subjects of real importance to the people of North Carolina. But the sentence which the legislators had been subconsciously listening for and which the jammed galleries--many of whom doubtless owned no property--spontaneously applauded, the sentence which was nailed to the masthead of one of the biggest daily papers in the State for 140 days, the sentence which deadlocked the General Assembly and more than once stood it on its head, was the short, prosaic sentence: "Taxes on property must be reduced." With the exception of a mere handful, every major state-wide bill passed by the General Assembly was considered and debated by some member from the viewpoint of its bearing on the cost of government and the reduction of taxes on property, especially on land. In order to understand the situation, it is necessary to review the causes which forced the issue.

After the war, North Carolina--traditionally conservative and stubbornly individualistic--stretched herself like a strong man after sleep. For ten years she drove ahead on a program of progress that for sheer advance matches the record of any state in the Union. The 1921 General Assembly authorized the issuance of $50,000,000 in bonds for state highways, and $7,000,000 for permanent improvements at state institutions-- roughly, one-third of a program which contemplated the expenditure of $20,000,000 in six years. In eight years we spent $160,000,000 of state and local funds for

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