Raleigh, N.C. — The 2015 session of the North Carolina General Assembly opened with friendly vibes Wednesday.
Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, was elected House speaker by acclamation, and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger likewise faced no opposition in his re-election.
Moore and Berger then outlined their legislative priorities in a news conference that didn't carry any of the tension Berger and former House Speaker Thom Tillis, now a U.S. senator, often had last year.
Republicans said they hope to focus on job creation through regulatory and tax reform and education investments. They were quick to squelch any talk of expanding Medicaid but still haven't reached an agreement on how to reform the costly health insurance system for the poor and disabled.
The state budget is already $200 million short of projections, but Berger said he expects the picture to change by April. Teacher raises, transportation funding and money for state courts all will require more funds from a tight budget.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders zeroed in on ethics reforms, noting Gov. Pat McCrory is the focus of an ethics complaint over his financial disclosures.