Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory says he and state lawmakers are "on the cusp" of a budget and tax package agreement, but he concedes "tough negotiations" still lie ahead before a deal is reached.
McCrory said Friday that he and legislative leaders are "very close to an agreement" on cutting income and corporate tax rates to make the North Carolina more competitive with bordering states.
"We’ve got a great line of communication, and we’re actively involved and working with the House and the Senate and have been since day one," he said.
"Of course, the devil’s in the details for the next two weeks," he added. "As the governor, I've got to make sure the numbers add up to allow me to operate government in an efficient and effective way.
"There’s a little sensitivity. We’re stepping on a few toes of some very strong special interest groups, both Republican and Democrat. But you know, I didn’t come here to please everyone. I came here to try to make a positive difference in the future of North Carolina."
McCrory touted the progress of legislation written to enable his administration's agenda.
"We’re going to be reforming transportation. We’re going to be fixing Medicaid. We’re going to be transforming the Department of Commerce. We’re going to be changing the State Personnel Act. And we’re going to be introducing energy legislation and passing energy legislation which possibly can allow for energy exploration in North Carolina," he said. "If we can get all those done in six months, I’ll be very, very pleased."
His commerce and transportation reform efforts have met resistance from advocates for rural and minority communities, who say they're being left out as resources move toward urban areas. McCrory dismissed those concerns.
"I have some groups from both rural and urban areas that want to keep the status quo," he said. "They want to keep the current systems that aren’t working, and a lot of these systems were patronage systems that, frankly, didn’t get results and cost a lot of money."
He also said he was "misquoted" in reports that he told last weekend’s state GOP convention the Moral Monday protests were bringing in “outsiders,” but he didn't offer a clarification of his comment.
The governor said he "welcomes lawful protest" but said that wouldn't include the more than 300 arrests so far.
"What I don’t want is just gimmicks for the media. I want sound dialogue and sound content on what we can do to improve North Carolina," he said. "We need to respectfully disagree. We can’t call one group 'moral,' which gives the impression that another group is immoral. We all care for North Carolina."
Asked whether the protests have had an impact on his thinking, McCrory said no.
"I think we’ve agreed to disagree," he said. "I actually, many times, don’t know what their agenda is. I know what my agenda is, and it’s improving education, improving the economy and improving government efficiency."