One of the less well-reported aspects of the House budget under consideration this week is the explosion of new fees that the House GOP is enacting and/or increasing dramatically. The House Finance Committee has been examining a bevy of new court fees that the budget would impose in order to replace some of the huge cuts the budget imposes on the Justice and Public Safety systembecause of the GOP’s ridiculous commitment to cut sales and income taxes.
One fee that drew a lot of discussion this morning was the new requirement that court defendants pay fees when they file “counter-claims” and “cross-claims.” Democrats noted that some counter-claims are mandatory under law. For example, a spouse sued for divorce must file a counter-claim for alimony when he or she answers the original complaint or forfeit the right to seek it. Under the new proposal, he or she will be required to pay a substantial fee to do this. This has never been the case in North Carolina.
The bottom line: The budget would move us one step closer to the far right’s dream scenario of “fee for service” government. Rather than simply keeping general taxes where they are (at a cost of about a quarter per household per day), the budget slashes these taxes unnecessarily and then raises fees through the roof.