McCrory to focus on economy, education, efficiency

Posted February 18, 2013
Updated February 19, 2013

— Six weeks after taking office, Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday boiled down his priorities to three E's – building the economy, reforming education and promoting government efficiency.

In his first State of the State address, McCrory said North Carolina cannot rest on its laurels as an education pioneer and economic powerhouse, noting many other states – and some foreign countries – have caught up and passed the state. He called on everyone to put aside partisan differences and pull together for the good of the state.

"None of this can be about politics, power, legacy, turf or who gets the credit. Who cares?" he said. "This is about the people of North Carolina."

Tax reform, which has been widely discussed among lawmakers in recent months, is just one tool "to make the economy ignite again," McCrory said, but it was the first avenue he mentioned as he turned his speech toward what he calls North Carolina's "broken economy."

Some Republican lawmakers have suggested eliminating personal and corporate income taxes and replacing them with an increased sales tax rate that applies to more things, such as services and groceries. McCrory didn't provide details of his tax plan, saying only that he wants lower rates and fewer loopholes and that it must be revenue-neutral.

In addition to tax reform, the governor called for a more aggressive energy plan, noting the royalties from oil and natural gas production could be used to finance infrastructure, education and other needs. He also called for an infrastructure plan to address North Carolina's transportation, communication, water and energy needs.

McCrory said he will work to expand overseas exports of North Carolina products and plans to tweak the incentives the state offers to recruit new and expanding businesses so they reflect measurable results. Also, the Department of Commerce will create a "small-town strategy" to better sell potential employers on rural areas with high unemployment.

McCrory State of the State address McCrory delivers State of the State address

"No one, no one will outwork this governor or our team ... in our effort to grow, recruit and retain North Carolina jobs," he said. "We will be on the road, and we're going to sell our great resources that we have."

Citing statistics on North Carolina's dropout rate and the number of students who need remedial help with math or reading, McCrory said the state's public schools are in desperate need of reform.

Schools need to teach "both knowledge and skills" so students are better prepared to fill jobs that are available now and in the future, he said. The "four silos of education" – pre-kindergarten, K-12, community colleges and the University of North Carolina system – need to work together on a strategic plan, he said.

"We can all agree on the importance of improving education because our competitive future depends on it," he said. "We must begin to change the debate on education. Instead of focusing the debate only on the budget, we now must demand results."

McCrory called for increasing technology in the classroom and that the North Carolina Education Lottery should be reformed to pay for it. Lottery administrative and advertising costs could be trimmed to free up money for technology, and school districts should be given the chance to spend some of their lottery proceeds on digital and virtual learning, he said.

"This is the future. Why don't we be ahead of the curve instead of behind the curve," he said.

Even before he took office last month, McCrory repeatedly referred to a "broken" state government that he wanted to fix through a "culture of customer service." He says his administration already has taken a few steps toward that:

  • Technology has been moved from 30 unsafe locations in government buildings to more secure sites. A small fire in a computer closet in a state administrative building the day before his inauguration highlighted the need for improved IT, he said.
  • The Department of Transportation personally apologized to everyone who was double-billed on the Triangle Expressway toll road.

But the governor also pulled out a stack of reports filed by the Department of Health and Human Resources to ask lawmakers to ease up on his staff to give them time to reform the state Medicaid program, which has been criticized in two recent audits for overspending and mismanagement.

McCrory said he plans to include money in his budget proposal to repair and upgrade government buildings and to better track the state motor fleet, and he asked lawmakers to pass bills that he believes will improve the productivity of state workers.

"We want to reward our talented state employees, but seat-warmers must be a thing of the past," he said.

McCrory acknowledged that his efforts would step on people's toes, but he said it's not in order to cause pain. North Carolina needs to wake up and get moving so it can regain its economic and education superiority, he said.

"We obviously have a lot of work to do, but my team and I chose to look at these challenges as opportunities," he said. "These are opportunities for every one of us."


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  • Cary Progressive Feb 20, 2013

    So to sum up the governor's speech and his Tea Party agenda (GOP/repubs/TP same thing): the guv is going to focus on the tea party agenda of destroying government and giving away the farm to corporations, and then blaming the muslim kenyan communist for letting them do it. Stealing from the poor to give to the rich being the preferred method since that will continue the trend back toward Robber Barron serfdom....

  • hb2605 Feb 20, 2013

    I think we need to fix the unemployment situation- if you go in and tell an employer that you only want to fill out an application to "keep drawing your unemployment benefits"
    - the employer should automatically offer them a job. Then the company should contact the unemployment office and advise them. There are too many people abusing the system and making it difficult for the ones that need the benefits for a reasonable period of time in order to find a job. We all need to plan to make lifestyle adjustments and especially the ones complaining on this site that should be out trying to find a job! Any employment is better than unemployment. I wonder how many folks in the crooked system have "under the table work" and still draw that handout check???? The penalty for abusing the system should be jail time- I would rather feed them in prison than feed them out walking freely!!

    Bottom line is: You have to want to help yourself!

  • unc70 Feb 19, 2013


    That 500k includes people with modest, maybe farm or self employed, over 50 with something considered preexisting. The had insurance but premiums were $1-2000/month. They go witho

  • Plenty Coups Feb 19, 2013

    It appears that the former moderate mayor of Charlotte is deferring to the irrational, far right General Assembly.

  • kornfan2448 Feb 19, 2013

    "If I got $550 a week I wouldn"t EVER go back to work."

    Well, so glad you have all the answers. I know several people that have been or were laid off, and NONE of them got anywhere near $550/wk. But if you're making less than that and are okay with someone making over $100,000/yr. and giving themselves a raise when they have yet to earn it, then good for you.

  • stymieindurham Feb 19, 2013

    "My biggest disappointment is not just the cuts to those that are already struggling, . . . ." I'm sorry but, stop crying already. $350 to $550 a week unemployment is not struggling. If I got $550 a week I wouldn"t EVER go back to work.

  • kornfan2448 Feb 19, 2013

    My biggest disappointment is not just the cuts to those that are already struggling, but doing it while approving himself and others raises when already making over $100,000 and doing it before proving they've earned it. I was just recently hired, think I'll get a raise before proving my worthiness? I mean, I need to be able to afford to live so I can work hard too.

  • stymieindurham Feb 19, 2013

    "In other words a huge HYPOCRITE!!!!!"

    Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa! Get over it. The free ride is over. IT'S TIME TO PAY THE BILLS!!

  • geosol Feb 19, 2013

    This man is one of the biggest hypocrites in the entire state! Says he wants government to act more like a business, and then he says that he's going to make the Lottery Commission stop advertising. Typical right wing REPUBLICAN. Says he wants to support education, and then he says we've got to stop building schools and wants to reduce the state education budget even more. Typical right wing REPUBLICAN. Says we all have to do more with less, then gives his cabinet members big fat raises. Typical right wing REPUBLICAN. Says that "people out there are really hurting", and then cuts benefits to those who really ARE hurting. Typical right wing REPUBLICAN. In other words a huge HYPOCRITE!!!!!

  • pinkiglock Feb 19, 2013

    Stay strong, McCrory, there are so many of us that are very supportive of your efforts!