McCrory’s budget screw up?

By: Mark Schenck - Contributing columnist

You may question my motivation in using the terminology: Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget screw up?

After all, I am known to be a conservative Republican and have been ever since April 11, 1951 when President Harry Truman fired General Douglas MacArthur.

I might add to that I have also supported the majority of Patrick McCrory’s efforts as governor. However, as you will later see, the primary reason why the General Assembly is taking such a long time coming up with a state budget is actually due to Gov. McCrory.

Before we criticize the governor’s legislative activities we must first mention McCrory has had many significant accomplishments during his term thus far. We seem to have gotten over the depressed financial condition of North Carolina when Gov. McCrory took office, for example: McCrory inherited a $2.5 billion debt owed to the federal government for extended unemployment insurance. This debt was totally owned by Gov. Beverly Perdue. She alone on June 3, 2011 unilaterally signed an executive order which bypassed the General Assembly and plunged North Carolina into debt to the federal government.

Then when the Perdue administration failed to pay back the loan at the end of it’s second consecutive year, employers were penalized under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, (FUTA). North Carolina employers began paying this penalty in 2011 and paid nearly $700 million in FUTA penalties. The McCrory administration payed off this debt on May 5, 2015.

Gov. McCrory’s historic tax reform package is a win-win for the state and the working families. This plan provides fiscally-responsible tax relief to all North Carolina taxpayers. Income tax rates for all taxpayers were lowered to a uniform rate of 5.8 percent in 2014. The corporate tax was reduced to 6 percent in 2014, making North Carolina more attractive to job creators.

Some of McCrory’s other accomplishments include: changing how transportation funding is controlled across the state which in turn has streamline efficiency and reduced cost. In the state school system a two-track academic and technical high school diploma system was created, and the state’s new personnel act allows for easier reshaping of administrative agencies cutting waste and duplication.

When Gov. McCrory took office unemployment was nearly 9 percent in North Carolina. McCrory helped to create an atmosphere in North Carolina that is conducive to business growth with positive results, June 2015 unemployment rate was 5.8%. Our school system is finally coming back from years of neglect and underfunding. A new report shows a steady rise in North Carolina’s teacher’s salary now 45th in the nation, (per teachers portal), up from Gov. Purdue’s era of 49th in the Nation. Under the Purdue and Easley administrations teacher’s salaries were allowed to sink to the bottom of the national average.

So, you might ask, with all these accomplishments just how did McCrory screw up? The answer is simple, his biggest mistake was letting it be known before state budget negotiations started that the N.C. state budget went from a debt of $2.5 billion to a current surplus of $445 million so consequentially those that fought Gov. McCrory tooth and nail against budget cuts, improvements in efficiency, and governmental streamlining are now lining up to help spend the $445 million surplus on trinkets and pet projects to buy themselves votes, and to put it bluntly “these dogs won’t let go of the bone.”

I don’t know how many folks today have experienced life on a farm, but common sense will work just as well. In the days before all these new hybrid seeds, a farmer had the responsibility of keeping some of his harvested seed to plant the next year. Farmers and politicians that spend everything they have without investing in the future are referred to as “eating their seed corn.”

McCrory has stated his intentions of using much of the budget surplus to further reduce N.C. taxes and continue adding to the state’s business-friendly environment. Simply meaning further reducing N.C. taxes will encourage further creation of new businesses and expansion of existing ones thus insuring a perpetual growth pattern. Let us hope he has the strength to stand his ground and against those that would blow the surplus on vote buying pet projects and trinkets, or in so many words governor: “Don’t let the turkeys eat the seed corn.”

Senate Majority Leader and budget writer Harry Brown admitted the state’s $445 million budget surplus has made an agreement harder than in previous years when money was tight.

Mark Schenck

Contributing columnist

Mark Scheck is chairman of the Scotland County GOP.

Mark Scheck is chairman of the Scotland County GOP.