JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
In the 1980’s and 90’s North Carolina was a national leader in attracting new jobs and investment. During the first decade of this century we lost our competitive advantage with over regulation, poor leadership and the highest marginal tax rates in the Southeast. Since 2011 we have changed the direction of North Carolina and we are seeing results. We cut tax rates, reformed the tax code and rolled back burdensome regulations to help get our economy moving again.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate has been cut in half, companies are investing in our State and job creation is on a record pace. Since 2011 we have added over 600,000 net new jobs in North Carolina and the Triangle’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.5%, the lowest in 18 years. We need to keep our tax rates low, continue to streamline regulations and take the steps necessary to encourage even more investment and better job opportunities.
Our children deserve the opportunity to learn in classrooms equipped for the 21st Century. In six years we have increased K-12 education spending by over $2.5 billion including the largest teacher pay raise in the Nation. We have worked to ensure more high school students graduate, and I am please to report that North Carolina’s 2017 graduation rate of 86.5 percent is the highest recorded in the State’s history.
Our economic future depends on a well educated workforce ready for college or a career. We have invested in critical work force development programs in our Community Colleges that lead directly to job opportunities. To make a public university education affordable we have eliminated all tuition increase for the first four years of enrollment. Three universities UNC-Pembroke, Western Carolina and Elizabeth City State offer $500 per semester tuition. North Carolina is nationally known for our outstanding Universities and Community College System and I will continue to work to strengthen these institutions.
AFFORDABLE QUALITY HEALTHCARE
I have been a champion in reforming our State’s mental health system, ending years of cost overruns in Medicaid and ensuring we are providing our citizens access to the best cutting-edge medical care available.
I am particularly proud to have passed a law that allows taxpayers to contribute all or a portion of their State tax refund to the N.C. Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program. This program provides screening, detection and treatment for women at-risk for breast and cervical cancer. To date we have raised over $300,000 that go directly to provide medical services for thousands of women. Making a difference in people’s lives is the most important job we have.
In 2011 Republicans inherited a state government in financial ruin. The budget deficit was among the highest in the nation, state government was $5 billion in debt and Medicaid overruns totaled over $700 million. The only answer offered by the Democrats was to raise more taxes. We decided to tighten the reigns on state spending, payoff the state’s debts, introduce reforms and focus on our highest priorities. We have balanced the State’s Budget, paid off the unemployment insurance debt and now have a $2 billon “Rainy Day” Savings Fund. While achieving these goals we were still able to cut burdensome tax rates and provide the largest teacher pay raise in the Nation.
We have modernized our tax code by lowering and flattening the tax rate, and removing many of the of special interest provisions. To grow our economy we need a tax system that is simpler, fairer and much easier for businesses and citizens to interpret. I oppose expanding service taxes. We need to keep our taxes low to help small businesses grow and allow families to keep more of their hard-earned tax dollars.
I am pleased to have authored budgets with strong bipartisan support. We have established real funding priorities for our State and allocated our resources to meet our top priorities. We need to evaluate programs which are duplicative, no longer necessary or can be consolidated. We can no longer afford to be everything to everyone and fund every special interest, we must be focused on those services which directly impact the health of our citizens, public safety, the education of our children, and boost our economy.