Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that he and North Carolina legislative leaders are going through a "tough process" working on a tax overhaul, but he isn't going to spend a long time trying to facilitate a deal.
McCrory said he's feeling there will be a positive outcome to negotiations between House and Senate Republicans.
The two chambers have passed competing tax plans and are trying to work out an agreement. Lawmakers have said they want the tax changes settled first before a final two-year state government budget is finalized so they'll know how much money they have to spend through mid-2015.
McCrory said he's looked at many tax scenarios but hasn't made his own offer to legislators. He has told them there are certain tax changes he wouldn't support. The Republican governor also has said he's concerned about whether there will be enough money to carry out some of his priorities.
"We're going through a tough process that I hope that we can reach a consensus on, but as the governor I've got to make sure the numbers add up and that's my major issue," McCrory said in an interview following a bill signing ceremony in the old Capitol building. .
McCrory isn't necessarily in a position of strength. The legislature doesn't have a hard deadline to pass a plan, and Republicans have large enough majorities in both chambers to override a McCrory veto, although such actions aren't likely. Republican lawmakers, however, want to end the legislative session in July. A bill sitting on McCrory's desk would keep government operating through July 31 while a budget is being worked out.
"I hope we can reach (a tax) consensus within the next week among the leadership. I don't want this to drag out much longer," the governor said. "I either want to come to a consensus on a plan, or move on to many of the other important items we all have to deal with."
The competing House and Senate plans differ on the extent of reductions to corporate and individual income tax rates and changes to business franchise taxes. The chambers also don't agree on which sales tax exemptions should end and which services should be subject to the tax.
McCrory has said he wants income tax rates lower to become more competitive with surrounding states and that any plan should be "revenue neutral," meaning it would not immediately increase the state's share of revenue.