Governor Pat McCrory is calling for Medicaid reform, a $1 billion transportation project, and fewer tests for students. McCrory delivered his State of the State address to lawmakers last night in Raleigh.
The governor’s 80-minute speech before a packed house chamber on Wednesday offered more praise and pomp than policy and proposals.
He touted the first two years of his administration before laying out an occasionally detailed vision about what he hopes is next.
"Last session we came close to passing Medicaid reform, but progress stalled on the one-yard-line. Lets not take another pass this year. Lets run it up the middle and win a victory for families across North Carolina," said McCrory, making an analogy to this week’s Super Bowl, when the Seattle Seahawks came up a yard short. Many lawmakers laughed.
The governor initially opted out of expanding Medicaid two years ago. There are half-a-million North Carolinians who would be covered under expanded Medicaid coverage. He said the administration is now continuing to review health care options.
"It must protect North Carolina tax payers, and any plan must require personal and financial responsibility for those who would be covered," McCrory told the chamber. "I will only recommend a North Carolina plan, and not a Washington plan, so we can put patients first."
Medicaid is a contentious topic. McCrory likely has a battle looming with the Senate. He said the word "Medicaid" only once.
Republican Senator Harry Brown is the majority leader. He said the distinction between reform and expansion is key.
"To me and a lot of people in the legislature expansion has already happened. Our budget has gone from two billion to four billion and if that’s not expansion I don’t know what is. I think reform is important moving forward, because we can’t sustain that kind of growth," he explained.
Two bond initiatives: transportation, aging buildings
In addition to maneuvering through Medicaid the governor introduced two major bond initiatives. He again touted his 25-year transportation plan; declaring the state needs to continue connecting small towns to economic centers and improving bridges from the coast to the mountains.
"Therefore I will request from you a transportation bond of one-point-two billion dollars that’ll allow for the quicker construction of projects in the 25-year plan," McCrory said.
Afterward Senator Brown offered this:
"The one piece, I think the bond on transportation and some other initiatives, we just need to take a look at the cost with that. The budgets are tight, so you just need to make sure you can balance the budget with additional debt."
Brown and his colleagues will also consider McCrory’s proposed $1.4 billion bond to renovate aging buildings.
On the topic of education, McCrory reiterated his promise to increase minimum teacher salaries, and promised to take a look at required exams.
"We want to distinguish which tests improve a students performance and which tests simply waste the time of both teachers and students. We want to eliminate unneeded testing by next year."
"I think that there was a lot of rhetoric and gloss over on education and not many details; I don’t disagree with much of what he said on education. I’m just not sure he said much on education," countered Democratic Representative Rick Glazier, who would have liked to hear more about schools.
The governor didn’t say anything on the issues of redistricting, religious freedoms or regulations for clinics that provide abortions. Bills have been filed on all those topics in the first full week at the legislature.
He did call on a historic preservation tax credit to be restored, proposed a new cabinet level Department of Information Technology and increased pay for Corrections Officers.
As for a detailed economic incentive plan, as well as his two-year budget proposal – those are expected later this month.
— newsobserver.com (@newsobserver) February 5, 2015