Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday touted reforms that have boosted the state’s economy – then sought support for special tax breaks, higher teacher pay, a $1.2 billion transportation bond, and the refurbishing of state facilities.
At the midpoint of his first term, he addressed the legislature Wednesday evening in an 80-minute State of the State address. He focused on five major topics – jobs, education, transportation, public safety and cutting government inefficiencies.
McCrory opened with an anecdote about Highway Patrol Trooper Michael Potts, who was shot during a traffic stop two years ago. Potts was a guest of McCrory at the speech.
McCrory compared Potts’ journey back to work, through multiple surgeries and rehabilitation, to the economic comeback North Carolina has made in the last few years.
“Like Trooper Potts, I’m proud to report that the State of North Carolina has come back even stronger,” he said. “Its people are resilient and its future is bright.”
McCrory said the state unemployment rate has dropped from the fifth highest in the nation to the 23rd lowest. He also hailed the NC economy for overtaking South Carolina and becoming competitive with the rest of the South.
He touted tax reforms that left more money in the pockets of the people and helped fund increases to teacher salaries. He lauded unemployment insurance changes that will lead to the state paying off $2.5 billion owed to the federal government early this spring.
But after citing these accomplishments, he said he still did not have what he needed to make North Carolina competitive, though he did say that the private sector had added 200,000 new jobs to North Carolina in the last two years.
He lamented he did not have a “clear and concise job creation toolbox” like other governor’s. This comes as part of McCrory’s ongoing requests for business incentive program funding the Legislature has thus far been denied.
McCrory said his “NC Competes” plan will “promote long-term sustainable job growth and capital investment.” He also said it would “encourage mid- and large- scale manufacturing” in North Carolina.
In addition to business incentives, McCrory asked that the Legislature bring back the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, which lapsed at the end of 2014.
In education, McCrory said this most recent year was, according to state records, the best year for graduation rates in North Carolina history.
He called for making good on a promise to raise starting teacher pay to $35,000, and called for simpler accreditation requirements for teachers with prior experience in teaching out of state.
McCrory called for a $1.2 billion bond to finish projects in his 25-year transportation plan faster to allow troops to move along the coast faster as well as allowing tourist to get to the coast easier. He called for improvements in the middle of the state to ease interstate highway congestion and open up the flow of freight transportation.
He also called for more efficiency in state buildings, as well as well as efforts to make repairs to state facilities across North Carolina.