Let’s start by taking a look back at what has been done in the past 3 sessions since the Republican Party came into power in North Carolina.
- Today, more people are going to work in North Carolina than ever before.
- That’s nearly 4.4 million people working – over 200,000 more than in January 2011.
- Our unemployment rate is more than 4 percent lower than it was in January 2011.
- When our kids are on their way to school, they’re going to school systems that are funded by the state at the highest level it has ever been funded.
Below are a list of topics that I, along with my senate colleagues, plan to focus on in the coming short session.
1) Budget Adjustments
Last July, we passed a two-year budget that invested in core services, streamlined state government, strengthened public education and helped grow North Carolina’s economy. It increased overall spending by almost 2.5 percent while cutting taxes for all North Carolinians. The budget did all of this while also including over $1.5 billion in additional state dollars to fund out-of-control costs in Medicaid, which continues to jeopardize funding for education, public safety, and other core government responsibilities. The number one purpose of this upcoming short session is to make the necessary adjustments to our budget.We understand the executive branch is working to identify savings to help offset shortfalls in Medicaid and other areas. We look forward to receiving the governor’s budget recommendations and starting our appropriations process.
2) Coal Ash
One of the most important priorities is addressing the recent coal ash spill and helping ensure similar events never happen again. During the recent interim, the General Assembly’s Environmental Review Commission has worked to gather information, assess damage and to receive updates on cleanup and prevention efforts. My senate colleagues, Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca specifically have been working for several months on legislation to require Duke Energy to clean up the other coal ash ponds in North Carolina and protect ratepayers.
3) Teacher Pay
As you know, improving schools for our children is a responsibility I take very seriously. I spend a good deal of my time during the interim visiting schools and meeting with teachers, students and parents. North Carolina needs a competitive compensation system so that we can attract the best and brightest teachers out there. Better teachers significantly improve the educational opportunities for North Carolina students.
I, along with other state Republican lawmakers, have committed, together with the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, to a plan that increases pay for over 40,000 educators in their first 10 years of teaching. This plan will make North Carolina a regional leader in teacher pay. These are important first steps, and we will remain focused on ways to make North Carolina even more competitive in education. I plan to continue working towards the goal that every child in the state has excellent schools, excellent teachers and the best possible chance at scholastic success.
4) Regulatory Reform
Last year we passed our third regulatory reform bill in three years – legislation that got rid of unnecessary red tape that burdened our small businesses. Our reforms are already helping North Carolina recruit and retain companies. With less burdensome, and less costly regulations, jobs are coming to North Carolina and the economy is bouncing back at an impressive rate. I intend to continue to help implement meaningful regulatory reform this session.
The above is simply a list of general issues that are certain to be legislated upon in the coming session. There will be many more pieces of legislation that will cover other areas as well. As always, your input and opinions are appreciated and are the most effective way to improve our state. I remain your humble public servant, and I look forward to working with the people of Cumberland Country to continue to improve our community.