To Carolina Journal about tax reform, saying that:

“During the short session one of my goals would be to increase the zero bracket, which is the standard deduction, and that could be from $15,500 to $17,500,” said Rucho, who has announced he will retire at the end of the current session. “That is treating every income level the same in the sense that that same $17,500 would be state tax-free, but it is extremely beneficial to the middle class.”

The General Assembly raised the exemption for 2016 from $15,000 to $15,500 for a married couple filing jointly, and from $7,500 to $7,750 for single taxpayers.

Allowing workers to keep more of their earnings by increasing the standard deduction “would be very beneficial” for the middle class, and blunt the “unfounded criticisms of the liberals telling us we’re doing this just for the rich,” Rucho said.

Rucho is optimistic that North Carolina will continue moving away from taxing income and toward a consumption-based tax system.

OK, fair enough. The thing though is that the issue of tax reform is a question that deeply divides Republicans in the General Assembly. And while how well Republicans do in North Carolina depends a lot on national factors, getting into another drawn out food fight over the state taxes and spending won’t exactly help the GOP cause in the Old North State in November 2016. Whether Rucho and other Republican leaders in the General Assembly are smart enough to recognize that fact and work through their differences in a timely manner — meaning passing a state budget by June 30, or at least sometime close to it — remains to be seen.