Pope reflects on last day as state budget director

Posted September 5, 2014 6:53 p.m. EDT
Updated September 5, 2014 8:46 p.m. EDT

— Friday was the last day on the job for state budget director Art Pope, who described the position as challenging, fulfilling and an honor.

As Pope packed up his office and sent out a few more emails Friday, he said he was getting out from behind the desk with mixed emotions.

“It is time for me to move on and spend more time with my family and my own business,” he said.

Reflecting on his work, Pope said the state's savings reserves were down to zero when he arrived. The current budget is much stronger, he said

“We have rebuilt up the savings reserve account to almost 5 percent of the state budget,” he said. “I think that’s crucial when there is a downturn in the economy and downturn in revenue.”

Although Pope doesn't know when that next downturn will be, he says the state's economy is currently recovering, albeit very slowly.

“The state is well positioned to take advantage of that recovery and to generate more revenue for state services, not from higher taxes but from economic growth that benefits all the families of North Carolina,” he said.

Despite his political and budget critics, Pope contends his working relationships with members of both parties are warm, respectful and professional.

“That’s why I honestly disagree that I’m either controversial or divisive,” he said. “I don't concern myself with what the professional paid left does. I don't worry about what's written on blogs. Life is too short to worry about that. It goes with the territory this day and age.”