Raleigh, N.C. — Reaction to Gov. Pat McCrory's first State of the State address poured in quickly Monday night and naturally was split along party lines.
House Minority Leader Larry Hall provided the Democratic response to McCrory's plan of focusing on the economy, education and government efficiency by noting his party believes in taking a different road to accomplishing the same goals.
"Our Democratic philosophy is this: Everyone who pays their fair share, works hard and plays by the rules should have a fair shot at success," said Hall, D-Durham.
He said job creation remains the top priority for Democrats, and he said more investment in small businesses and worker training is the best way to achieve that. Republicans prefer instead to shift the tax burden to working families by cutting corporate and personal income taxes and expanding the state sales tax, he said.
"We cannot support any tax reform plan that doesn’t pass a simple fairness test," he said.
Hall said he agrees that North Carolina schools need reform but said slashing the education budget isn't the way to achieve that.
"We must, however, make sure that reform is not just a code word for continuing to cut more and more from our schools," he said. "Cutting funding for public education is wrong because it hurts our children’s ability to succeed and compete for the jobs of the future."
Senate Minority Whip Josh Stein also spoke for the Democrats to criticize McCrory's address as not being specific enough about his plans.
"It is more notable, the lack of detail he put behind any of the policy prescriptions he offered," said Stein, D-Wake.
House Speaker Thom Tillis countered that the governor laid out several ideas.
"He talked about the education priority. He talked about energy exploration, updating our transportation infrastructure. All of these things we stand ready to work with him on," Tillis said. "It is a transformative message, and it is one I embrace with open arms."
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger also praised McCrory's vision for the state.
“We applaud Gov. McCrory’s commitment to ending the broken policies of his recent predecessors and steering our state on a path to a brighter future," Berger said in a statement.