by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As state lawmakers consider compensation for victims of North Carolina’s government-imposed, eugenics-based forced sterilization program, it’s probably a good time to revisit recommendations Daren Bakst made on this topic back in January.
North Carolina should do more than make a one-time cash payment to living victims of the state’s forced sterilization program. That’s the assessment of the John Locke Foundation’s top legal expert. He recommends lifetime tax breaks, special license plates, and other policies in a new Spotlight report. …
… After settling on $20,000 for living victims, Bakst recommends that North Carolina allow taxpayers to designate part of their tax payments for eugenics compensation. “Similar to the state’s taxpayer-supported campaign finance program for appellate judges, taxpayers should be able to check a box on their tax returns allocating $3 to a fund for compensating forced sterilization victims.”
Bakst’s third recommendation calls on the state to divert $7 million from its judicial campaign finance fund to pay for eugenics compensation.
“A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling raises serious doubts about the future of North Carolina’s judicial taxpayer financing system,” he said. “The legislature should repeal that taxpayer financing system. Instead of moving the money to state government’s General Fund, the money should go directly to the eugenics compensation fund. The $7 million would make an immediate difference in victims’ lives without the legislature having to appropriate any additional money.”
The report’s fourth recommendation says North Carolina never should require eugenics victims to pay state income taxes again. “These victims should not have to fund the state that committed such a terrible wrong against them,” Bakst said. “The state could address this recommendation through a nonrefundable or — better yet — refundable annual tax credit. It could be based on the average individual income tax in North Carolina. In fiscal year 2009, that average was $1,019.”
A final recommendation calls for a new specialized license plate that would generate revenue for compensation while educating the public, Bakst said. “The amount of revenue generated might be modest, but the money certainly would help, and the education benefits should not be ignored.”