CHARLOTTE, N.C. - "The state we love is in a hole," said Walter Dalton in a recent campaign ad.
Dalton goes on to blast his opponent, Pat McCrory, on taxes.
"His plan to raise taxes on the middle class will make things worse," the ad goes on to say.
UNC Charlotte accounting professor Dr. Hughlene Burton says that McCrory's plan says nothing about a tax increase. In fact, McCrory's plan on his website says he wants to lower income taxes for everyone and reform the tax code.
Burton says that the Dalton ad is making an inference about how McCrory would cut revenue while balancing the budget. McCrory's plan on that is vague, and he hasn't said exactly how he would balance the budget.
"You have to decrease spending somewhere or find other revenue sources," said Burton.
She says that could be spending cuts, or it could be other taxes, like sales.
Eyewitness News emailed the McCrory campaign to find out more. We were told simply that he "has no plan to increase taxes on the middle class," and that McCrory would work with both parties to reform the tax code.
Burton says that McCrory could be hoping an income tax cut would increase people's spending, create jobs and then increase the tax base.
She says that
may or may not work. But without a clear plan from McCrory, Burton says, speculation about tax increases is just that.
"The ads are vague. They allude to, make inferences; they aren't facts," said Burton.
Eyewitness News looked into Dalton's record and found he has voted for tax cuts, like one on food, and a gas cap.
His campaign says he has voted to cut more than $8 billion worth of taxes. But we also found he voted for several sales tax increases or extensions.
"Four-hundred-thousand North Carolinians don't have a job," said McCrory in a recent campaign ad.
That ad goes on to say,
"The path to prosperity and thousands of jobs is right under our feet and off our coast."
UNC Charlotte Geologist Dr. John Bender says there are energy resources in the state. But those jobs and that money will not come quickly.
"Might it create thousands of
jobs … in the next 10 years … yes," he said.
Eyewitness News asked the McCrory campaign what that energy plan would look like. The response was that McCrory would take "an all of the above approach to safe energy exploration."
The McCrory ad never mentions the word
fracking, but Bender points out that's likely the only way to tap what's "right under our feet."
So far, the legislature has only approved for natural gas fracking to be explored.
So for now, the real impact is still unknown.
"It's how long the gas will last and how long there's a market for it," Bender said.
Bender says other options like wind and solar are expensive. Building nuclear plants could create jobs, but that's not regulated by the state.
And offshore drilling, which he says could be big for North Carolina, isn't being allowed right now by the federal government.
The Dalton campaign responded to our finding by citing a North Carolina Justice Center Budget and Tax Center report. It says that a possible revenue source to offset an income tax cut would be to raise sales taxes. The Budget and Tax Center says raising sales tax impacts lower and middle class families most.
The McCrory campaign responded by saying that putting energy exploration off now will make those jobs materialize even further down the road. It points to other states like Pennsylvania and Ohio saying, "their economies are benefiting from that today with lower unemployment." It also says that McCrory wants to enter into partnerships with other governors to "press the federal government to take action."