Local Politics

McCrory, Perdue bicker over drilling, vouchers

Posted September 9, 2008
Updated September 10, 2008

— Gubernatorial candidates Beverly Perdue and Pat McCrory agree North Carolina needs tax breaks for small businesses, stronger immigration enforcement and a better mental health system.

But sparks flew Tuesday night during a debate sponsored by WRAL when the candidates discussed offshore oil drilling, the use of vouchers to send students to private schools and negative advertisements.

"She's just throwing things out there that aren't true," McCrory said of a Perdue campaign ad that contends McCrory's support of vouchers would pull $900 million from the state's public school system. "Your commercial is misleading and wrong, and you ought to pull it."

McCrory, the Republican mayor of Charlotte, said that he supports the concept of "selective scholarships" to assist students whose needs aren't met by public schools and that he wouldn't offer vouchers to every student statewide.

Perdue, the Democratic lieutenant governor, accused him of flip-flopping on the issue, and McCrory likewise charged she had shifted her position on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.

Perdue said Tuesday that she supports oil exploration off the North Carolina coast if current technology ensures it won't spoil the state's beaches.

"We will do it on my watch if we can do it safely in the 'Graveyard of the Atlantic,'" she said.

McCrory said Perdue had been adamantly against drilling a few weeks ago during another debate, adding that he doubts technology has improved in three weeks.

Campaign ads paid for by outside groups that targeted each candidate were played during the debate. One said McCrory favored "perks for politicians," while the other had a Perdue look-alike pressing the "status quo button."

"I hate those ads. I wish no one would run them," Perdue said, adding that candidates are prohibited from contacting the outside groups to ask them to pull such ads.

McCrory said his campaign has refrained from running personal-attack ads and challenged Perdue to do the same.

"There are differences of opinion, and we should respect that," he said.

Both candidates said the federal government's immigration enforcement efforts have failed and said they would work with the state's congressional delegation to beef up programs.

"We want documented, legal workers in North Carolina," Perdue said.

They also both opposed allowing illegal immigrants to enroll in community colleges.

McCrory and Perdue criticized Gov. Mike Easley for his handling of mental health reform. An effort to decentralize the state system hurt patient care and eliminated accountability, they said.

Perdue also said the practice of giving teachers bigger raises than other government employees needs to be stopped, and workers need to be paid enough to keep them at state agencies. McCrory said the market should set the pay increases for different categories of teachers and other public-sector employees.

McCrory said his initial focus in office would be to cut the state's corporate tax and personal income tax rates, which he said would spur economic development and job growth. He said he would be more selective about using state incentives to recruit business, noting he would be more in favor of giving grants and tax breaks to large and small manufacturing companies.

Perdue said more emphasis needs to be put on education and worker training to create jobs in high-tech and green industries.

"This race is really about who can push North Carolina forward," she said.


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  • djs8608 Sep 10, 2008

    To the people who commented on Charlotte's gang problem: do you live in Charlotte? If so, (and assuming you read the newspaper) you would know that Mayor McCrory has been working for the past several years to combat the growing gang problem... The mayor does not have ultimate control over every city function, therefore, to make any improvement there are processes and red tape that must be overcome. I think it is unfair to blame him for the less-than-ideal outcomes of issues that he has been working to improve. The issues with gangs are not due to Mayor McCrory's inaction but rather to the way our governments are structured.

  • the EX Sep 10, 2008

    I'd be embarrassed if I were a NC democrat after watching the debate last night. If the NC Democratic party knew anything, they would dump her and get someone else more competitive with McCrory. She's an embarrassment.

  • flyNC Sep 10, 2008

    Liberal media, eh? Why is it that every time the Republicans make up a new hot topic the media jumps all over it making it a big issue across the news? Even John McCain first stated offshore drilling was not a solution to anything. (He does not publicly hold that positition today).

    Worse, why are we discussing it in our gubernatorial debates? No governor will have much say when it comes to that decision.

  • vote4changeASAP Sep 10, 2008

    So wildverb, does that mean that you might support McCroy?

  • davidgnews Sep 10, 2008

    Private schools tend to cost less because they're run more efficiently with less over head. wildervb

    There's a certain myth that teachers are better paid in private schools, and results are way more stellar than public schools. Maybe when you get to a 'prep school' level, but otherwise people do as well homeschooling if you really need a comparison.

    Vouchers, as presented, are just another smokescreen to undermine the struggles going on with public schools. I guess it's easier for someone to get into office to promote vouchers when they should have to come up with public school solutions if they're such good 'leaders.'

  • davidgnews Sep 10, 2008

    dataclerk, since you are a state worker and still support Perdue, don't whine about your miniscule raise next year, if you even get one. primedesignmaineanjou

    I think dataclerk was being sarcastic, and actually funny.

  • wildervb Sep 10, 2008

    I personally like the idea of education vouchers.

    They should be structured in such a way to only help those who can't afforded a private school.

    So for example if your family income is less than 40k per year you could get a full voucher worth 5k, then as your income increases you get less of a voucher. Maybe at 75k per year it goes to zero.

    This would give parents a choice. It would also save the tax payers money, since it cost close to 10k a year to educate a child in a public school. Private schools tend to cost less because they're run more efficiently with less over head.

    As I see it, this would be a win-win for everyone. Parents would have more choice, tax payers would be saved money, public schools would have less over-crowding problems.

  • vote4changeASAP Sep 10, 2008

    dataclerk, since you are a state worker and still support Perdue, don't whine about your miniscule raise next year, if you even get one.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Sep 10, 2008

    Just say NO to the Republicans this Nov. The Republicans have ruled our state way to long it time for Change !!!

    You are so right. The way to go is the Democrat's way. Obama for your president.

  • duster 340 Sep 10, 2008

    Just say NO to Democratics this Nov. The Democratics have ruled our state way to long it time for Change !!!