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Five questions McCrory didn't answer

Posted January 21

Gov. Pat McCrory holds a news conference at the Governor's Mansion on Jan. 21, 2014

— Gov. Pat McCrory talked to reporters Tuesday about his agenda for the "short" legislative session that begins in May and beyond. He spent nearly an hour laying out the broad strokes of his agenda and, along with members of his cabinet, answered questions from reporters.

At times, he was crystal clear on agenda items he would pursue – for example, he will push for a puppy mill regulation bill this session. Other answers he gave raised or left open questions about the coming year.

Teacher raises – yes. But what about state employees? 

McCrory was unequivocal talking about raising teacher salaries.

"We will get teacher raises done this year," he said, even asking his chief education advisory Eric Guckian to talk about ongoing talks to craft a plan. McCrory called it "unacceptable" that teachers had been given only one raise during the past five years. 

But he did not mention rank-and-file state employees.

State employees have had only one raise since 2008 and the State Employees Association of North Carolina is making a major push for a 3 percent raise in this year's budget. 

What will Medicaid reform look like? 

Virtually since he took office in January 2013, McCrory has been talking about the need to rework the state's Medicaid system. During Tuesday's news conference, he once again referred to the need to care for "the whole person."

Last year, McCrory pushed for a version of Medicaid that would rely heavily on private managed care companies to treat patients who are part of the state's insurance program for the poor and disabled. Lawmakers didn't initially embrace that full-fledged turn to manage care, instead appointing another study committee to look at the issue. Recently, legislators were briefed on accountable care organizations, groups of doctors who took responsibility for ensuring the overall health of a group of patients. 

When asked Tuesday, McCrory did not say whether he favored either of those approaches or something else. 

"We're in the process of meeting with our teammates in the legislature," he said. "We're looking at a solution, and hopefully it's a solution that can impact all of the state of North Carolina and not just specific regions. ... It might not be one solution fits all for the entire state." 

Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos says she will deliver a report on the administration's Medicaid reform proposal on March 17. 

Whither film incentives? 

Although lawmakers did a major rewrite of the state's tax code last year, a few pieces of the code are likely to come up for debate this summer. None will be more pressing than the state's film incentive tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of this year. Television and film producers say they will be unable to keep productions in this state should the credit expire. 

McCrory did not list the tax credit among his high-priority agenda items. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker did bring it up, but was far from certain about its fate.

"We're still waiting on information. The North Carolina state study is due imminently," Decker said. 

What's there to drill? 

"One thing that is going to really drive our recovery and renaissance in North Carolina is getting into the energy business," McCrory said. 

Drilling, both onshore and off, was the first specific economic priority he mentioned during the new conference and listed clearing the way for onshore natural gas drilling as one of his three top legislative priorities for the coming session. 

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla told reporters that that the state should be ready to issue permits for hydraulic fracturing in the spring of 2015. 

However, less clear is how big of an economic boon to the state drilling might be. McCrory himself hinted at this uncertainty during the news conference.

New legislation, he said, was needed "so we can begin finding out what's out there through seismic testing offshore and also through testing of potential inland resources in North Carolina counties." 

And one question McCrory posed himself about DHHS: "Is it too big to succeed?"

McCrory spent a good deal of time talking about the Department of Health and Human Services, an agency that has faced a constant drumbeat of criticism during his first year in office

"As I look at DHHS, we're asking the question, 'Is it too big to succeed?'" McCrory said during his prepared remarks. Asked about this remark, MCCrory raised questions about whether the department is too complex for any one person to manage. He ticked off a list of calls he had gotten from Wos about DHHS issues ranging from problems at a local nuclear plant to Medicaid and mental health problems to pre-kindergarten. 

"It's an amazing hodgepodge of responsibilities that make management difficult," McCrory said.

He seemed to raise the possibility that the agency might be broken up or restructured somehow, but he was not ready to answer his own question yet.

"I don't have a solution. That's why I'm going to have a team to review," he said. That review of the agency will be led but Budget Director Art Pope.

42 Comments

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  • ALECarolina Jan 24, 5:09 p.m.

    What a bummer for Bob "The Probe" ex-governor of Virginia......he just got busted by the Feds for swapping political power out for "campaign donations".....too bad he didn't pull that in NC, where it's apparently business as usual under our new "Customer Service" brand of "leadership" by the ALEC-sponsored stooges in power.

    Pat McCrory has filled his cabinet with political hack fundraisers like Aldona "The Media Did It" Wos, who raised over $600,000 for Pat......and is being paid $1 a year to destroy NCDHHS so they can all get a slice of the taxpayer's money when they privatize the "broken system".

    This should be illegal.........and it is. Too bad the Feds ain't investigating the McCrory unadministration for corruption and fraud........YET.

    Loot And Plunder the government while complaining about how "broken" it is....it's the republican way!

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Jan 23, 2:22 p.m.

    By now, most engaged people in NC are well aware of the unprecedented magnitude of the patronage, corruption, and incompetence that defines the new governor and the general assembly. Old news.

    Yes, in 6 or 8 months, we will go through the tiresome but necessary ritual of reminding the voting public about their vicious attacks on the poor, unemployed, women, teachers, environment...the gerrymandering, twisted new voting laws, megadumps, Dix Park obstruction, education cuts, tax hikes (flat tax plus sales tax to dramatically benefit the wealthy), the proposed state religion, and so on and so on.

    But what inspires this comment is: what about NC's own ultra-wealthy citizens (people who are wealthier than Art Pope), who supported McCrory, Pope, Berger, Tillis, and all of the things they have done to the good people of NC? Do they have regrets? If so, I have heard nothing about it.

    :-( WHY THE MEDIA TABOO ON COVERAGE OF WEALTHY IN-STATE GOP DONORS, HIDING IN THE SHADOWS?

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Jan 23, 2:22 p.m.

    By now, most engaged people in NC are well aware of the unprecedented magnitude of the patronage, corruption, and incompetence that defines the new governor and the general assembly. Old news.

    Yes, in 6 or 8 months, we will go through the tiresome but necessary ritual of reminding the voting public about their vicious attacks on the poor, unemployed, women, teachers, environment...the gerrymandering, twisted new voting laws, megadumps, Dix Park obstruction, education cuts, tax hikes (flat tax plus sales tax to dramatically benefit the wealthy), the proposed state religion, and so on and so on.

    But what inspires this comment is: what about NC's own ultra-wealthy citizens (people who are wealthier than Art Pope), who supported McCrory, Pope, Berger, Tillis, and all of the things they have done to the good people of NC? Do they have regrets? If so, I have heard nothing about it.

    :-( WHY THE MEDIA TABOO ON COVERAGE OF WEALTHY IN-STATE GOP DONORS, HIDING IN THE SHADOWS?

  • Honesty first Jan 23, 11:24 a.m.

    McCrory is making Bev look like a great leader. At least she didn't have to ask Pope before she spoke. Hey Art, go back to Dollar General.

  • Honesty first Jan 23, 11:19 a.m.

    DHHS can't be restructured and be small enough for Wos to manage effectively.

  • monami Jan 22, 9:09 p.m.

    Let's spoil the Outer Banks by drilling for oil instead and continue to burn fossil fuels... View More

    — Posted by marathonk

    Did you think this was about making thoughtful, quality legislation? Incorrectomundo, my friend! It's about lining pockets. This administration has been instructed to facilitate the rape of our environment via landfill expansion (cha-ching), fracking (cha-ching) and other toxic provisions. Cha-ching.

  • monami Jan 22, 8:59 p.m.

    "... on his way to being one of the worst governors in North Carolina history."

    Who are the other contenders for last place? Seems to me, he's a shoe-in for WGOAT (worst Governor of all time award).

  • josephlawrence43 Jan 22, 8:52 p.m.

    5 questions McCrory didn't answer? Well, don't you think that out of fairness, 5 questions that Obama did not, and has not answered should be asked ( yet again); Questions on Fast and Furious, the IRS scandals, Benghazi, failure to enforce existing immigration laws and the constitution, Keystone to name only 5. Will WRAL ask those openly??

  • rhess2 Jan 22, 6:47 p.m.

    I read one headline from a local print media outlet stating "McCrory's press conference leaves a lot to be desired". His cabinet attended the conference with him This was a chance to see some of his unqualified appointments and/or big campaign donors in one place. No wonder what this Governor says leave a lot to be desired. Pat McCrory is well on his way to being one of the worst governors in North Carolina history.

  • Atheistinafoxhole Jan 22, 6:40 p.m.

    About Carol Steckel: http://www.wral.com/north-carolina-s-medicaid-director-leaving-post/12916411/

    About Wellcare, the company she went to work for: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323495604578539501938211678

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