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Rucho resigns as Senate Finance Committee co-chairman; cites dispute over tax plan

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TWC News: Rucho resigns as Senate Finance Committee co-chairman; cites dispute over tax plan
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RALEIGH -- A shakeup in the Senate, as they worked to approve on their most talked about bills of the session.

The person who has been the face of their tax overhaul plan resigned from his chairmanship position Thursday morning, as the Senate prepared to vote on a compromised tax plan.

Sen. Bob Rucho from Mecklenburg County sat and watched as his colleagues debated the merits of Republican-penned state tax reform proposal.

Rucho has been the face of tax reform for the Senate this session, leading the charge for the Republicans as they worked on a proposal.

But then a major turn of events.

"If something is sinking, it's maybe a good time to get off the boat," said Rucho.

Rucho sent a letter to Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger Thursday morning saying it is "necessary to submit his resignation as co-chairman of the Senate finance committee" and that "it is a huge disappointment that the governor and the speaker of the house did not provide the leadership or have the political backbone to fight the special-interest groups who favor loopholes over a fair tax system."

"Every one of the millions of taxpayers -- the individuals will pay a higher rate," he said. "That is our problem now and all that we have done is exacerbated it and I felt it was important to stand on some principles."

But as the debate on the tax plan went on on the floor, Berger sent a simple note back to Rucho, saying he "hereby respectfully declines to accept" Rucho's resignation.

This debate stems from a decision earlier in the week to offer an alternative to a House-approved tax reform plan that differed greatly from the one Republican leaders, like Rucho, had been working on for months.

Berger said the plan now on the table is a sound one.

"We will end up ahead of Texas in business tax climate, that will translate into jobs for the people of North Carolina," Berger said.

In the end, the proposal passed 30 to 17. The Senate needs to take one final vote on this plan before they send it back to the House.

It is likely the two sides will then negotiate a compromise.

Meanwhile, according to Berger's office, Rucho will remain a committee chairman.

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