Mike Harrison

Mike Harrison

Age: 60
Residence: Barnardsville
Occupation: Col. (Ret.), U.S. Army; executive management consultant, IBM, small farmer
Education: B.A., Florida State; M.A., Central Michigan Univ.
Party: Republican
Political experience: Congressional liaison officer; candidate for Buncombe Board of Commissioners, 2004

1. What was the best piece of legislation the General Assembly passed last session? Why?

Legislation that tightened restrictions on sexual predators was a good first step, but more is needed. N.C. should follow the pattern set by several other states and pass a much stricter “Jessica’s Law.” Predators who despoil children should receive very heavy prison sentences beginning with the first offense.

2. What was the worst piece of legislation? Why?

The bloated budget was clearly the worst. The Legislature should have used this rare opportunity to end so-called “temporary” taxes, eliminate duplicative and unnecessary programs, and spend only for the state’s highest-priority requirements. Instead, they incurred additional, recurring expenses that will require tax raises in future years.

3. What would be your three top legislative priorities?

• Pass a Taxpayer Bill of Rights limiting tax increases to rate of inflation and population growth

• Require government agencies to justify each line item in budget requests based on what is needed, not what can be spent

• Pass a constitutional amendment restricting government seizure of private property

4. Should our local legislative delegation have sponsored Sullivan Acts II and III in 2005? Why?

These Sullivan Acts infringed on the authority and responsibilities of local elected officials in Buncombe County. This action by the Legislature is another demonstration that too much decision-making authority is concentrated in Raleigh. We need to return much of that authority to the responsible officials at the local level.

5. What’s your stance on capital punishment?

Taking human life is an unfortunate but necessary response to certain, heinous crimes. Society has the right to impose capital punishment as a means of condemning such behavior. By their actions, some criminals forfeit their right to life.

6. What most distinguishes you from your opponent?

My opponent and I view the proper role of government differently. I support the constitutional precept that our government exists primarily to protect citizens so they can pursue their own goals. My opponent supports an activist government that uses law and taxpayer money to dictate how people live their lives.

7. What reforms are most needed in state politics?

• Limit terms of legislative leadership positions, including speaker of the House, Senate president pro tem and committee chairs

• Pass a Taxpayer Protection Act to peg allowable spending growth to changes in state population and inflation

• Pass legislation requiring periodic review and reauthorization of all government programs

8. What’s your position on the proposed passenger-rail service between Raleigh and Western North Carolina?

A number of studies indicate such rail service will not be self-sustaining financially but will be a continuing drain on taxpayer funds. If a private business cares to build and operate the rail, then it may warrant further consideration.

9. Would you support state funding for renovating or rebuilding the Asheville Civic Center? Why or why not?

I would not support such a state bailout. Local officials made the decision to build the Civic Center, and it is their responsibility to find the solution. Taxpayers in other parts of the state should not bear the burden of renovating or rebuilding the Asheville Civic Center.

10. Name three state budget areas or items that should be reduced and three that should be increased.

• Reform the tax code that penalizes saving and investment

• Attach education funding to the student and give parents the right to send their children to any public, charter or private school in the state

• Restructure Medicaid to more closely resemble private plans and discourage dependence

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About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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