Gov. Pat McCrory, describing himself as an “outsider” who is challenging the “good-ole-boy and good-ole-girl” system of state government, defended his eight-month record in Raleigh during a stop Thursday (Sept. 12) at the Jarrett House in Dillsboro.
McCrory spoke to a standing-room only crowd largely dominated by the Republican faithful of far-Western North Carolina. Attendees included state Sen. Jim Davis (R-Macon) and Jackson County Commissioners Jack Debnam and Doug Cody.
“I’ve had to push against the status quo, the status quo of that culture,” McCrory said of North Carolina government. “I got elected to make change and to turn this state around.”
Among his accomplishments, McCrory numbered tax reform, changes to the transportation-funding formula, boosting funding to education and making a start toward overhauling the state personnel system. This means:
• Beginning in 2014, personal and corporate income taxes will be reduced, which McCrory said would stimulate business growth in North Carolina. The governor said that he and Republican legislative leaders had managed to resolve major differences to reach this agreement on tax reform.
• Under a new transportation-funding plan, while dollars will be distributed regionally, a large share will be targeted toward easing traffic congestion and meeting transportation needs on a state level.
• For kindergarten through 12th grade public education, the budget stands at $7.8 billion, which McCrory cited as the “largest in North Carolina history.”
Critics have responded that McCrory’s claim does not account for enrollment growth and inflation.
The governor also touted a new funding method for community colleges that isn’t based on enrollment, but rather funnels dollars toward technical and health programs. That type of training results in graduates getting jobs and filling positions needed by businesses, he said.
• More state employees, up to 1,500, now can be hired and fired at will, but McCrory said that he needs even more flexibility in streamlining state government.
The governor in recent days has seen his approval-rating drop to 35 percent, according to figures from Public Policy Polling. There have been a number of protests across the state, including an Aug. 28 gathering in Sylva that drew about 300 people. Only four people protested outside the Jarrett House, waving signs that said “Where Are The Jobs” and “Teachers Not Cookies.”