Raleigh, N.C. — As he wraps up his second year in office, Gov. Pat McCrory reflected Thursday on what has gone right in 2014 and where the state and his administration can make improvements going forward.
McCrory was quick to praise his cabinet and state lawmakers for improvements in education, energy and the economy.
"We had one of the largest drops in unemployment in the nation," he said, noting "we're not even in the top 30 anymore" in terms of the jobless rate.
On the energy front, natural gas drilling is close to reality in the state, and he's now working with President Barack Obama's administration to accelerate offshore drilling as well. He heads a group of governors that lobbied U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow testing to determine what oil and gas deposits sit under the seabed off the state's coast
"I promised we'd get into the energy business, and we're finally at the first step after being on the sideline for 25 years," he said.
McCrory said he's frustrated with the lack of a consolidated health care system and with what he calls the unknowns of the Affordable Care Act. He said he wants the state, not the federal government, to take the lead.
"I'm going to come up with a North Carolina plan, not a D.C. plan," he said, adding that his proposal could include expanding the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The General Assembly's decision last year not to expand Medicaid to some 500,000 people as allowed under the federal health care law brought heated criticism of the governor and state lawmakers. It's something McCrory now appears to want to change in concert with the House and the Senate.
McCrory also wants to create a new cabinet level department of information technology to literally connect state government statewide and reduce duplication and costs. He is already talking with legislative leaders about it.
"I think we've really gotten off on the right foot. I've already had several conversations with talks with (Senate President Pro Tem) Phil Berger," he said.
"I think, like last time, we're going to agree on about 80 percent of things," he said. "I won't be afraid to fight my own party."