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 dropped dramatically, companies are investing again in our State and job creation is on the upswing. In just the past year and a half we have seen three major job announcements in the Town of Cary totaling over 3,100 new jobs. We need to keep our tax rates low, continue to streamline regulations and take the steps necessary to encourage even more investment and job creation in our economy.
Our children deserve the opportunity to learn in classrooms equipped for the 21st Century. In four years we have increased K-12 education spending by $1.5 billion including the largest teacher pay raise in the Nation. We have worked to insure more high school students graduate, and I am please to report that North Carolina’s 2016 graduation rate of 85.8 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. I will continue to work to improve basic math, reading and writing skills in the early grades, restore discipline to the classroom, and support our teachers. North Carolina is nationally known for our outstanding Universities and our Community College System and I will continue to work to strengthen these institutions.
In 2011 Republicans inherited a state government in financial ruin. The budget deficit was among the highest in the nation, the 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 billion surplus. We ended this past fiscal year with $319 million surplus in Medicaid and a revenue surplus of $425 million. 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 taken the first major steps to modernize 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.