Dear Fellow Citizens,
I hope you all are doing very well. This legislative session is reaching a peak level now that the budget discussions are fully underway. Last week the Senate brought forth and passed the first legislative iteration of the state budget over to us in the House. The House Appropriation Chairs began meeting this week to prepare for the House budget process and I anticipate that appropriation committees will begin to meet next week to comb through the document.
As always, I will approach the state budget process with a focus on eliminating spending that is not within the role of state government and working to ensure that the proper role of state government is adequately and sufficiently funded. While there are provisions within the Senate’s budget proposal that will receive the necessary reforms from the House, I am pleased with the Senate’s commitment to keep the growth of state spending within the limits of inflation and our state’s growth in population.
The fact that North Carolina is outpacing our neighboring states in almost every economic measure is in direct relation to the net reduction in one’s net state tax burden, prudent spending, and a focus to lower the invisible tax of unnecessary regulations. Lowering the net state tax burden has allowed individuals, rather than government, to choose how to spend their own money which has directly contributed to the economic growth of our state.
As taxes are tethered to earnings and spending, the economic prosperity of the state has led to greater revenue to the coffers of state government. It is encouraging to see in the Senate’s budget, and I hope to see carried through in the House’s version, the return of the surplus monies to their rightful owner; the taxpayer. Instead of irresponsibly growing state spending in times of plenty, I am pleased to see revenues be put aside for hard times within our “Rainy Day Fund” and surplus dollars returned to the taxpayers through further tax reductions.
When state government spending is limited to responsible means it is imperative that lawmakers put a stop to funding special interest boondoggles that are not within the proper function of state government. The citizens of our state need solid funding of our state’s education system, transportation infrastructure, the justice system, and public safety. I will continue to be a strong voice on this front to protect your hard earned money from wasteful spending and to have a state government that can adequately deliver its role to We the People.
As the budget process moves forward please be a voice to our office. Please know that even after the House moves forward with its version over the next few weeks that the House’s passage will not be the end of the story. The House changes to the Senate’s proposed budget will go back to the Senate where they will likely “not concur” with the House revisions. A “non concurrence” vote by the Senate will lead to the start of the budget “conference” process between the House and the Senate appropriation leaders.
Even after the conference process is over, the final product has to be approved by both legislative chambers of the House and the Senate. If the Governor signs the budget, the House / Senate budget votes only need to be a simple majority, but if the Governor vetoes the budget the House / Senate chambers will need veto proof level votes in order to move the conferenced budget into law. Stay tuned.
Future increases to your power bill & the effort to act before it is too late: House bill 745
There are no typos in the title of this section of the newsletter. It is true that there is major upward pressure on energy prices here in North Carolina and that the affordable power bills North Carolinian’s have enjoyed in the past will be in serious jeopardy. The “writing is on the wall”, the only question is whether the Republican super majority in Raleigh is going to take the proper action before it will be too late.
In order to provide a solution to the problem of upward pressure on North Carolina’s energy rates please find that I have authored and introduced House Bill 745 – NC Energy Ratepayers Protection Act this legislative session. This legislation is one of the single most important bills this session that is aimed to help you dodge the bullet of higher energy costs that previous lawmakers fired your way.
House Bill 745 will help minimize the cost imposed on the energy ratepayers of our state from the harmful energy related statutes that were put in place a decade ago through Senate Bill 3 of the 2007 legislative session. It is important to recall that Senate Bill 3 of 2007 was a piece of legislation that resulted in sweetheart deals for every stakeholder at the legislative table.
Unfortunately the most important stakeholder, the energy ratepayer, was not at the table back in 2007 but was rather on the menu as the legislation was mechanism for special interests to profit off of the backs of the North Carolina ratepayer and the taxpayers over the last decade. Before I get into the need for House Bill 745 to protect our energy ratepayers, it is important to expand
upon the facts surrounding the exploitation of the North Carolina taxpayer relative to this issue.
Legislation put in place by the previous majority chose to subsidize one form of energy in North Carolina over all others. From a state standpoint, the subsidy I am referring to is the subsidy of “renewable energy”. Note that the term “renewable energy” does not include all renewable energy by true definition but only the renewable energy production forms that were at the legislative table back in 2007 – solar, wind, and biomass.
Without regard to the environmental impacts of the intermittent and unreliable form of energy brought by way of solar, wind, and biomass energy production that can lead to a less efficient grid, and without regard to the environmental impacts of an energy distribution system that requires the redundancy of a shadow grid of natural gas, nuclear, or other on-demand energy producing methods to provide for consumer needs when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow, the previous majority chose to subsidize one form of energy off the backs of the North Carolina taxpayers.
How much did this subsidy cost the taxpayers? Just since 2010, the tax credits claimed by renewable energy producing facilities have totaled over $1.6 Billion dollars. The “b” in the word billion is correct as the cost to the taxpayers will be staggering once all credits are realized. Over just 6-7 taxable years, the taxpayers will have had to bear a state tax burden that was meant to fund justice, public safety, education, and infrastructure to instead have their monies make the Al Gore’s of the world rich with billions of their own tax dollars.
While the impact to the taxpayers is not easily reversible, the ability to minimize the impact to the energy ratepayers in our state is exactly what House Bill 745 will do if signed into law. Please note that I have no issue specifically with renewable energy, my issue is with the mandate and the subsidy of any form of energy.
Now that the subsidy of renewable energy has been sunsetted, the mandate that you must purchase renewable energy, regardless of cost, is the issue that House Bill 745 will successfully address. If this bill passes into law, it will rightfully and respectfully require all reasonable forms of energy production methods (including solar, wind, and biomass) to be a part of our state energy policy while moving to protect the energy ratepayer by focusing on affordability and reliability. Solar, wind, and biomass will be at the statutory table but the ratepayer will be protected by allowing least-cost energy production to supersede the renewable mandate.
Note that the sweetheart deals for renewable energy special interest of existing statutes put in place by the previous majority at the demise of the taxpayer and the ratepayer has led to North Carolina having over 60% of all contracts for renewable qualifying facilities in the nation. The current standard contract language for renewable energy sources provides locked-in rates for 15 years, regardless of any future savings in fuel rates, and even forces the ratepayer to purchase energy even when not needed.
These current contract related statutes are so out of line with Federally required thresholds, that while North Carolina does not have the exposure to the clear skies of Arizona or the expansive lands of Texas it is our state that has more renewable related standard contracts than over 40 other states combined. House Bill 745 puts our state rightfully in-line with Federal thresholds involving renewable standard contracts and reverses the move to force our ratepayers to purchase energy when not needed.
In addition, House Bill 745 freezes the current energy mandate in place in order to properly protect the ratepayers without pulling the rug out from any existing contract. The reasonable language in House Bill 745 towards an industry that has exploited our ratepayers and taxpayers should be seen as a respectable proposal to transition rightfully back to reliable and affordable energy for the benefit of North Carolina’s citizens.
If you have taken the time to read this section of the newsletter, know that you are more informed than the rest of North Carolina in regard to the reason your power bill will be going up if the legislature does not act. Almost every word of this write-up is in direct correlation to the comments I made at a press conference last month. Unfortunately for the public, most all of the press has decided to ignore this issue as the nearly $2 billion that will eventually come from your tax dollars to subsidize the press’s golden calf of renewable energy does not suit their narrative.
It has become clear to me that both the press and the special interest behind the renewable mandate and subsidy does not want you to know how you are being exploited through your tax bill or through your power bill. Regardless of the press’s reason not to cover this important matter, consider yourself warned. It is past time to be a voice on this issue to right the legislative ship on energy as it relates to your personal power bill and to do so before it is too late. As always, it is my desire to keep you informed regarding the actions of your state government. There is much more to come. Until next time…
Representative Chris Millis
609 Legislative Office Building
Raleigh, NC 27603