Gov. Pat McCrory is the first Republican Governor in North Carolina for 20 years. So, many looked with anticipation to his first State of the State address this past Monday to see what kind of governor he would be.
His speech covered a range of subjects, including education, drug courts and his expectations of state workers, but it remains to be seen which issues he will pursue in collaboration with the General Assembly and which ones will quietly go away. On one, at least, McCrory already acted. He signed a bill Tuesday cutting unemployment benefits for workers, a move that some think was a mistake.
Hodding Carter, III, a professor of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said on the State of Things that cutting benefits would hamstring unemployment recipients.
"Do the math on what it is that those unemployment benefits are going to be now," he said, "and then go out as one of those folks and live on it."
But Becki Gray, vice president for outreach at the John Locke Foundation, says the bill was necessary to lessen the debt burden accrued by the state when it borrowed from the federal government to meet benefit demands.
"I think it is significant that this is one of the first things that the General Assembly and the governor has done," she said. "...the best thing that we can do for unemployed people is get the economy moving and get them back to work."
Jessica Jones, WUNC's Capitol Bureau Chief, said the debt would have been settled eventually anyway.
"It was getting paid off," she said. "But the governor said he wants that debt to be paid off faster."
With the unemployment bill signed into law, McCrory sets his sights on other tasks, including tax reform and infrastructure improvements.