GREENSBORO, N.C. — Patrick Ballantine said his promise to state employees comes at a price. The Republican candidate for governor was in Greensboro Friday for the State Employees Association Convention.
Ballantine promises state employees a voice and a 5 percent raise. However, early retirements and job cuts are part of the deal.
"Well, I'm going to work with state employees to determine that. I told them there are going to have to be reductions in force," he said. "Right now, we are funding vacant positions at the tune of about $250 million a year -- vacant positions."
The State Employees Association finds itself in an unique situation. Democrats line the stage at their association's convention, but they picked Ballantine because he promised them a seat at the budget table.
"I think it says that we're not going to be taken for granted by any political party in North Carolina," said Dana Cope, director of the State Employees Association.
Some question whether state employees will actually vote for Ballantine on Election Day or are they just sending a message.
"That remains to be seen. Everone will make their personal decision, but as a group, as an organization, we've made our decision and we stand by it," state employee Bruce Anderson said.
The State Employees Association waits to see if Ballantine will produce as well.
"I'm going to be positive at this point and certainly hope that he will," state employee Brenda Creech said.
"A happy employee is a productive employee," Ballantine said.
The governor's office said it would cost more than $1 billion to deliver a 5 percent pay raise for three straight years. A representative said many vacant positions are important jobs and cutting them still would not cover the proposed pay raises.