The Follies

By: - April 17, 2015 11:11 am


McCrory bristles at Obama’s reminder about education cuts

Governor Pat McCrory wasn’t happy that President Obama mentioned North Carolina’s woeful education funding on his visit to Charlotte this week.

Obama, in town to sell his economic policies and equal pay proposal, told a town hall crowd that “this used to be a state in which the promise of education was understood at the state level.”

That prompted a news release from McCrory’s office later in the day touting last year’s teacher raise and ending with this—“I would urge the President in the future to stick with the facts — and refrain from ‘editorializing’ on a quick trip funded by taxpayers.”

As several news stories reminded McCrory, the state still ranks near the bottom of the 50 states in per pupil spending and many classrooms across the state don’t have enough textbooks for their students. And many veteran teachers barely received a raise at all last year and McCrory’s budget for the next two years would give only a third of teachers a salary increase.

McCrory’s pettiness about Obama’s trip being funded by taxpayers is also worth noting. McCrory himself has been crisscrossing the state in the last few weeks, selling his proposal to restore the historic tax credit program.

And it’s probably a safe bet that McCrory’s not charging the flights on the state plane on his credit card. Maybe every time McCrory makes an appearance somewhere, the media should remind people that McCrory is speaking on a trip “funded by the taxpayers.”

The real story here is that the truth hurts. McCrory and his fellow Republicans running the General Assembly are dismantling the public schools with budget cuts and voucher schemes and he doesn’t like being called out on it.

McCrory openly blasts Senate obstructionism

And President Obama ought to be the least of McCrory concerns anyway. He has bigger problems in Raleigh, most notably the Senate leadership that continues to treat McCrory as almost irrelevant in the policy debate.

Senate leaders recently said that the historic tax credit legislation supported by McCrory that passed the House was dead, in a legislative graveyard. McCrory has spent months touting the tax credit in small towns from one of the state to the other and leaders of his own party don’t seem too impressed.

At some of the stops McCrory goes beyond asking people to call lawmakers in support of the tax credit, he blasts Senate leaders, “a few people holding up a bill that benefits 9.7 million people,” as he told a crowd in Goldsboro recently, adding that the Senate leaders’ obstructionism was not the democratic way. The question now is, does McCrory have the political skills to use in public and behind the scenes to get at least this part of agenda passed? Don’t bet on it.

Business leaders speak out—and it’s about time

And finally this week, welcome news from some major business leaders in the state that also raises questions about their role in the state policy debate.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst spoke out against the so-called religious freedom act introduced in the General Assembly that would allow businesses to discriminate against gay people based on some undefined religious belief.

And so did Robert Greenburg, IBM’s top executive in North Carolina. Greenburg sent a letter to Governor McCrory saying the company is strongly opposed to the bill that would “enable discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or identity.”

Other companies have also weighed in and to his credit McCrory has also questioned the need for the bill, though unfortunately he has stopped short of pledging to veto it if it passes.

The opposition from key business leaders is welcome news and let’s hope more weigh in on the ridiculous pro-discrimination proposal.

But it does make you wonder where the business leaders have been while funding for public schools has been slashed in recent years and lawmakers have refused to expand Medicaid, denying health care for 500,000 people and ignoring the chance to create more than 20,000 jobs in the state over the next ten years.

Good for the CEOS for speaking out against discrimination.

Now they need to speak out against other reactionary proposals that also threaten North Carolina’s future.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066