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My responsibilities as Governor can be found in my mission statement for North Carolina. In my next term, I will continue to build on this mission: a North Carolina where people are better educated, healthier and have more money in their pockets so that there will be more opportunities for people to have lives of purpose and abundance. It has been the honor of a lifetime to lead this state and strive toward those goals. We have made progress for our state, but there’s still more work to do so that we emerge from this pandemic even stronger than before.
Nothing is more important for our future than our public schools. We need to invest in schools, raise teacher pay, increase enrollment in early childhood education, ensure broadband access in rural schools and keep our schools safe. Our Early Childhood Action Plan recognizes the value of strong investments in education and health care from cradle to career, and we’ve seen a decline in infant mortality.
I’m fighting to expand Medicaid to close the coverage gap and extend coverage to more than half a million people, including families and veterans, without additional state tax dollars. More people have lost their health insurance due to job loss during the pandemic. I will keep fighting until legislative Republicans agree to expand Medicaid or until we beat them this November. No person in this state should have to choose between basic necessities and access to quality health care that saves lives. Expanding Medicaid would also boost the economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs, while helping to save rural hospitals and reducing private health insurance premium costs.
We’ve recruited tens of thousands of new jobs across North Carolina. Many of these projects are located in rural and economically distressed counties. I remain committed to helping every North Carolinian find a good-paying job. I’ve created initiatives such as NC Job Ready, Finish Line Grants, and Hometown Strong. Our Clean Energy Plan fights climate change while attracting good-paying jobs.
During my time as governor, North Carolina has raised teacher pay, expanded pre-kindergarten programs and re-established the Teaching Fellows Program, but it is not nearly enough.
Right now, our educators are taking on a lot as we begin an unprecedented school year. I will keep fighting to give teachers the pay raises they deserve. I support raising pay for public school teachers to at least the national average and reinstating master’s and other advanced degree pay. I also support raising per pupil funding for all public schools to at least the national average.
This year, I announced one of the state’s largest infusions of new dollars in our early childhood system: $56 million which will go toward improving early childhood education and health outcomes for at-risk children. We need to continue to expand these opportunities.
General Assembly leaders have prioritized corporate tax cuts over teacher pay raises. We don’t have to pit teachers against other state employees. Instead of giving teachers significant raises this year comparable to those given to other state employees or passing a bond to build new schools and get students out of trailers, legislative leaders have focused on passing more sweeping tax cuts for corporations which I stopped with my veto pen.
We need tax cuts that help families, like raising the standard deduction I signed into law and the dependent care tax credits I have proposed. We don’t need more sweeping corporate tax cuts that the legislative leadership has proposed. We need that money instead to go to educator pay, a greatly expanded Teaching Fellows Program to recruit highly qualified and more diverse teachers, early childhood, pre-K, along with community colleges and universities. We need to lift the respect of educators with more professional training and masters pay. We also need a robust bond package to build public schools and help our community colleges and universities with capital projects. Bonds should also be used to expand high-speed internet access and regional water and sewer systems for rural areas.
I believe in individual and community empowerment. You are the best person to make choices about your life. I'll make sure your voice is heard.
The most important responsibility of the Governor, as chief executive, is to provide leadership and guidance to state agencies and bureaucracies to guide them on a path to being more effective and efficient in the interest of serving the people while simultaneously saving taxpayer funds.
There are many functional responsibilities held by the Governor of North Carolina, from forming a budget, the faithful execution of laws, considerations of clemency, appointments, etc. However, in everything the Governor does it is their duty to work for the common good of the people of our state and of our communities. The toxic partisanship currently in play have hampered our leaders from working together in the best interest of our state. Promoting unity and bridge building between these partisan divides will be of paramount concern in the next gubernatorial term.
It is of vital importance to find common ground with the other elected members of the Executive branch. There will always be partisan dividing lines, but forming common ground so we can move forward and elevate the public discourse will be among the most important things an incoming administration can do.
To that end, a summit with regional state leaders will be necessary so the Council of State put together a comprehensive list of regional concerns. The Executive branch will work with Legislative delegations all over the state to elevate local concerns over those of the current establishment power base. We need to build multi-partisan bridges and partnerships within a unified legislature. Being from outside the two-party status-quo, I'm uniquely situated to forge bonds of common interest within our government that will work for the common good of all North Carolina residence.
We need greater autonomy in the hands of locally elected School Boards. The State Board of Education may need to pivot to a partnership role so we can work together with the elected officials of all 100 counties in our state. Each county is different. Each have their own priorities and unique circumstances. A centralized one size fits all approach is less effective than a decentralized model. Local communities need to be more empowered to try the solutions to education that best work for them. Our schools are too important not to have local concerns at the forefront of every decision.
We must also consider the enormous disruption to our education system cause by both the COVID-19 pandemic and our government's response to it. While remote education may be an adequate solution for a largely urban and suburban county like Mecklenburg, it may not be the best fit for a rural county like Iredell. County and city governments know the priorities and issues of greatest salience to their constituents. Each county may want to take a different path, from increasing school choice, innovations in classroom settings and safety, boosting the opportunity scholarship programs, etc. I look forward to working with school boards to put in place the tailored solution that best fits their circumstances.
Every tax dollar North Carolina spends had to first be extracted from the hard working men and women of our state. With economic uncertainty on the horizon, more of that money needs to stay in the pockets of working people.
In particular, small businesses and those who depend on them for their wages, have been acutely hurt by the response to COVID-19. With the government telling thousands of our fellow citizens that their jobs are “non-essential” it is Raleigh's duty to ease the burden of taxation. A moratorium on property taxes for small businesses during this ongoing health crisis is the least our state government can do. This will put more money in the bank for small businesses that are already struggling.
Fees for occupational licensing, which is a pay for permission to work tax, will likewise have to go while this health crisis is ongoing. During these unprecedented times, no one should have to pay for permission to earn a living.
With that in mind, it is vitally important that our government spends what revenue it takes in as well and as efficiently as possible, taking care to only fund things that are absolutely necessary. Our tax system needs to be just and fair. Impediments to our common prosperity need to be repealed.
1. Creating jobs. With more than 1 million North Carolinians out of a job, we need to quickly get our state back to work and repair the damage to our economy. This is more important than just subsistence: So many of society’s ills can be cured by a good job. We need to make sure that all parts of our state have the infrastructure needed to land job opportunities and that people have the training and skills needed to fill them. We also need to ensure we have a suitable vision for North Carolina to lead the way to opportunity.
2. Putting students first. For too long, our education system has prioritized the system over the student. Parents know best what classroom setting works for their child, and we must protect school choice options so all students have access to a good education
regardless of ZIP code.
3. Protecting law and order. The government’s first priority should be the security of the people. We are watching murder rates climb in our major metropolitan areas. We must keep violent criminals off our streets and behind bars where they belong.
On Day 1, I will fully reopen North Carolina's economy, ensure our children can go to school, and protect the most vulnerable from COVID-19 while allowing healthy people to get back to work. Creating jobs across our state is hard work, and it will take a strong vision, a good plan, and the right team to get there.
We will start by mapping the jobs problem in North Carolina, identifying the strengths of our different regions, county by county. We will put together a Department of Commerce that proactively identifies new and growing industries that align with our strengths, and build relationships with companies to land these opportunities rather than wait for them to come to us.
I will sign a bill that requires sheriffs to cooperate with ICE to get dangerous illegal immigrants off our streets and into federal custody. I will also protect Opportunity Scholarships and ask the General Assembly to craft legislation that expands access to all families. A child's education should not be defined by their ZIP code, and no family should feel stuck in one particular school.
Our top priority should be to put students first. For too long, our state has put the desires of the system and bureaucrats over what's best for our children. I believe that parents should be making choices about where they send their children to school. To give parents choices, the state should be supportive of all types of educational options: traditional public, public charter, magnet, private, parochial, virtual, homeschool, or otherwise. Over the past 8 years, we have invested heavily in our public school system, and I plan on continuing those investments.
I’m proud that we’ve been able to help North Carolinians keep more of their hard-earned money by steadily lowering our income tax rates — while continuing to prioritize our strong investments in education, teacher salaries and other important government functions. The most important thing to remember about tax money is that it’s not government money. It’s the people’s money. I want to continue to bring down income tax rates in a prudent manner that allows us to keep making smart investments in our infrastructure.
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