The Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, announced an economic plan today that he says will create more jobs. It includes tax breaks for small businesses and a plan to attract more industries to the state. Capitol Bureau Chief Jessica Jones reports.
Jessica Jones: Dalton officially unveiled his plan on the patio of a popular brewpub in downtown Raleigh earlier today. A few minutes into his speech, he pulled out a sweet potato and proceeded to explain why he’d brought it along to the press conference.
Walter Dalton: Not too many years ago, ConAgra located a processing plant in Louisiana. North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes. But we weren’t in the game in that particular endeavor. And we need to be in the game, we need specific recruitment teams targeted for industries that make sense in North Carolina.
Dalton thinks the state needs more specialized recruitment teams so more businesses like ConAgra choose to settle here. He says it’s one of the key points of his fifteen-page jobs plan to improve the economy.
Dalton: I’ve been saying on the campaign trail we have to refocus and recruit 21st century jobs. We have to leverage our North Carolina strategies, we have to retool our policies, and we have to retrain our workforce.
Dalton’s plan includes tax credits for businesses that hire long-term unemployed workers. And the lieutenant governor wants to give tax exemptions of up to 25 thousand dollars for small businesses with incomes of less than 200 thousand dollars. That’s meant to contrast with a 50 thousand dollar tax exemption for businesses of any size passed by Republican legislators last year. Dalton says small business owners should keep more of what they earn.
Dalton: This is a real plan, based on research and best practices. It’s not political platitudes. It’s not poll tested talk points, this is a real plan to put people back to work in this state.
Dalton wants state funding for loans to be used by manufacturers and other businesses to help keep them in North Carolina. Several small business owners stood behind the lieutenant governor as he made his announcement today. Joseph Bushfan owns Joe’s Diner in Durham.
Joseph Bushfan: You know we need help. And basically with Pat McCrory, I don’t think that’s in his package to help the smaller businesses. He’s about the larger corporations and stuff.
But a spokesman for the McCrory campaign says that’s not correct. He says McCrory plans to loosen regulations and lower taxes that hinder small business owners in the state. Brian Nick is a spokesman for the McCrory campaign. Nick says Dalton’s plan seems to emphasize developing more renewable energy sources before oil and gas exploration in the state.
Brian Nick: Pat is ready to move forward on energy exploration and get North Carolina into the energy business so we can get into that sector and create jobs along with it and that’s part of what he sees as the Carolina comeback, in getting our broken economy moving again.
Nick says the McCrory campaign believes natural gas fracking and offshore drilling could help lower the state’s persistently high unemployment rate. A law passed earlier this year would legalize fracking as early as 2014. Dalton’s plan does encourage the development of renewable energy, but he also supports oil and gas exploration if it can be done responsibly.