Editorial: An action agenda for Cooper and the legislature

Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 -- With the race for governor finally settled, Gov.-elect Roy Cooper and the legislature need to get to work now on these six must-do tasks to get North Carolina back on track.

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N.C. State Capitol Building
A CBC Editorial: Friday, Dec.9, 2016; Editorial# 8093
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

The stall tactics, the empty claims of voter fraud and baseless challenges to the way ballots were counted has finally come to an end.

The state’s critical needs didn’t disappear during the electioneering intramurals. While Gov.-elect Roy Cooper started working on his transition shortly after the election, it lacked the official coordination with the current governor and his administration.  It is past time to get down to the business of rebuilding North Carolina’s brand.  It is time to get moving.

Here is what the new governor, Roy Cooper, and General Assembly must achieve by April 20, 2017 – 100 days from the legislature’s opening session. They are not matters of partisan difference, but where majorities of North Carolinians agree.

-- Repeal HB2. North Carolina has suffered enough. Get rid of all of it, no strings attached.
-- Enact non-partisan congressional and legislative redistricting. The courts have already ordered new districts, here’s an opportunity to do it right. Set objective criteria that meet federal voting rights requirements, avoid needless litigation, give North Carolinians fairer representation and maybe even save the taxpayers millions in the process.
-- Expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to 500,000 uninsured North Carolinians. The federal program pays 90 percent of the cost, it creates tens of thousands of jobs, helps keep rural hospitals open and will add about $3 billion to the state’s economy annually.  While the status of this program is uncertain with the change in administrations, since several states are already in it, it isn’t going to disappear right away.  It is likely there will be something similar set up in its place.  North Carolina shouldn’t miss the opportunity again.
-- Enact a competitive compensation plan for teachers and principals – and do it before anything’s buried in a proposed state budget. It has been well-documented how badly North Carolina lags in teacher pay and now we see embarrassing reports indicating our pay for school principals is even worse!
-- Reestablish the Teaching Fellows Program. Along with improving pay, we need to re-open the pipeline to get our best and brightest leading our classrooms, not leading the exodus to other states.
-- Require accountability and transparency in the private school voucher program. Millions of taxpayer dollars are being spent on the “opportunity scholarships” without any requirement or notion that they’re helping educate North Carolina’s children. The standards should require private schools to disclose business operation details and salaries of faculty and administration along with student performance data.

There’s to do and we’ll be following soon with more suggestions for our new governor and the legislature.

We’re not quite off to the start that we should have had on these important matters. The governor and legislature need to work together and get this done.

We have lost time and ground to make up.

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