News from this week's NewsBreak! > February 20, 2013

NC Governor Touts Infrastructure Improvements in State of State Address

Gov. Pat McCrory, in his first State of State Address, told state lawmakers Monday night he would generate long-term plans to improve state infrastructure in an effort to bolster economic growth. McCrory, in a pep-rally-like setting often interrupted with applause, repeated campaign themes to focus on economy, education and efficiency in state government.

The governor - likening himself to an "Eisenhower Republican" who connected the East and the West as well as rural and urban areas said the four key infrastructure areas his administration would focus on would be transportation, water, energy and communications.

He said a top goal of government is to provide needed infrastructure to support job creation and economic growth. To that end, McCrory said, his administration soon will unveil a long-term plan for infrastructure that will create jobs and also protect the environment.

"This will send a strong signal to the private sector that we will be partners with them and their continued economic expansion in NC. It is crucial that we begin this process now. We have waited far too long. Let's do it now and present the next generation with a vision and a plan for economic growth and prosperity through infrastructure," he said.

Six weeks after taking office, McCrory also said his budget priorities would include improving mental health treatment as well as state information technology and facilities. He said his administration would concentrate on making public education at all levels more focused on results and that state government employees would be more customer friendly. Infrastructure improvements, the governor said, would include transportation, facilities, energy and communications.

The governor said he wants to see a tax reform plan that would lower personal and business income taxes, close loopholes for "special interests," and be revenue neutral. He added that any changes should be implemented "systematically."

One of McCrory's best received-lines was that money from the state lottery should actually be used for education, as initially promised. Now that's a novel thought, the governor said with a grin. McCrory also said he wanted school districts across the state to be able to use lottery money for technology and digital learning initiatives, which currently aren't permitted uses.

GOP lawmakers also loudly endorsed the governor's comments on legislation he will sign this week that will lower unemployment benefits to pay off a $2.5 billion debt owed by the state's employers. "These are not easy decisions. But I know one thing - borrowing from Washington with no idea or plan on how to repay it ends with this administration," McCrory said.

Meantime, Democratic lawmakers criticized the governor for failing to provide specifics on tax reform and other policy areas. House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham, in a televised rebuttal after McCrory's speech, said Democrats need to make sure that education reform isn't "just a code word for continuing to cut more and more from our schools," adding that the state must end a cycle of asking public school teachers to do more with less. He also questioned whether McCrory's call for more school technology would involve bringing to the state for-profit, online charter schools that are not accountable to the public.

Watch video below of the State of the State address embedded from or click this link to go to their page.

See photos of the State of the State Address, excerpts from the speech and political spin on the address.

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