Gov. Mike Easley says it might not be a good idea for North Carolina to allow the rest of a “temporary” sales tax to expire next year.

See if you can spot in the following passage the way in which the governor’s thought process differs from those who believe in limited government.

[H]e said that following through on the rest of the sales-tax cut next year would mean a loss of roughly $200 million in annual tax collections for the state.

Easley said the budget can absorb that loss of revenue.

But he added, “Here’s the question: Do we really want to?”

Easley, a second-term Democrat, said he wants to explore doing something else with that money, targeting it for lower- and middle-income families.

He mentioned pursuing a tax credit for such families — something that has been touted in recent days by State Treasurer Richard Moore and Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, the two presumed frontrunners for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2008.

But Easley said it could go for college scholarships or some other use. He said he is open to ideas.

“There’s all kinds of possibilities,” Easley said.

He acknowledged that when “we put them on, we did say they were coming off.

“We ought to try to keep that commitment unless we find a better way to give the money back to the people — and more so, to those who need it,” Easley said.

Governor, you don’t have to “give the money back to the people” if you never take it from them in the first place.

What’s more, the money they’re never forced to surrender to the state will pay for the goods and services they actually want. 

Watch for more sales tax shenanigans in the weeks ahead.