by Anna Manning
From Carolina Journal‘s Rick Henderson:
Gov. Roy Cooper’s second State of the State address included plenty of proposals liberals and Democrats cheered. But Republicans and conservatives, who dominate the General Assembly that would put these policies into effect, aren’t likely to embrace many of them.
The governor’s speech focused on rural economic development, along with higher spending for traditional public schools, job training, and infrastructure. The applause for expanded state government largely fell along party lines, with Democratic lawmakers giving the governor regular standing ovations while Republicans remained seated.
Cooper also called for better communication, engagement, and collaboration between Democrats and Republicans, the administration and the legislature.
He opened the address recounting the resilience of a victim of Hurricane Florence who lost her home and was living in a Wilmington shelter. Noting her gratitude, Cooper said, “the state of our state is determined.”
The governor highlighted several themes:
- He called for Medicaid expansion.
- He predicted climate change will increase the severity of storms, requiring new infrastructure spending in vulnerable areas.
- He said tax cuts had reduced money available for public education.
- He called for higher teacher and principal pay, promising a budget that “will put our schools and our teachers first.”
- He urged more spending on pre-K slots and the NC Teaching Fellows program, which covers college costs for graduates who teach for at least four years in North Carolina.
- He called on lawmakers to place a school construction bond on the ballot for voter approval.
- He defended taxpayer incentives to attract businesses.
- He repeated his call to provide community college, tuition-free, for “high-demand jobs.”
- He urged expansion of rural broadband service using public-private partnerships.
- He reiterated his call to extend the ban on offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.
In response, Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said he learned from the 2018 election that North Carolinians want the governor and the General Assembly to come together and solve problems. He said government should set reasonable rules that apply to everyone and then largely get of the way.
Read more here.