Carolina Journal News Reports
CJ Series

McCrory Administration

In 2013, Pat McCrory became North Carolina's third Republican governor since the 19th century and the first to govern with a General Assembly under Republican control. <i>CJ</i>'s reporting on the administration's policies are collected here.

(3.19.15) Education Spending Set To Rise In Budget
Pay raises for starting teachers, full funding for new enrollment, and additional money for instructional materials are highlights of the governor's budget proposal.

(3.06.15) McCrory’s Budget Raises Teacher Pay, Restores Tax Credits
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory called on lawmakers to honor a promise to increase starting teacher salaries to $35,000 and included salary boosts for state troopers and corrections officers Thursday as he unveiled his $21.5 billion General Fund budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. Budget director Lee Roberts said the 2.9 percent increase is less than the state’s growth in population and inflation-adjustment factor.

(2.26.15) CJ Editorial: With Medicaid, Patience Is a Virtue
The governors is wise not to expand Medicaid at a time the program is in flux.

(2.02.15) JLF Report Supports Sunset for Historic Preservation Credits
RALEIGH — North Carolina lawmakers made the right decision when they ended state historic preservation tax credits. Those who support government involvement in preservation efforts should look at local grant programs instead. A new John Locke Foundation Spotlight report features those two findings.

(1.29.15) CJ Editorial: Leave the Tax Credit to History
State government should not be in the business of giving special favors to developers in the form of targeted tax credits, for historic preservation or any other purpose.

(1.05.15) Budget, Highways, Medicaid Highlight 2015 Session
RALEIGH — North Carolina lawmakers will return to the state capital later in January with a lengthy agenda, including taking another crack at Medicaid reform, considering a $1 billion highway bond, and tackling what recent projections reveal to be a $190 million revenue shortfall. Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, noted that income tax refunds to taxpayers could be less in 2015 because efforts have been made to make withholdings more accurate.

(12.05.14) McCrory, Tata Unveil Long-Range Transportation Plans
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory and his top transportation lieutenant on Thursday outlined new highway construction projects designed to ease bottlenecks and facilitate the flow of traffic. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata said the plan calls for the N.C. Department of Transportation to fund 478 highway projects over the next 10 years, resulting in the creation of 300,000 jobs.

(12.02.14) Skvarla Moves From DENR To Commerce In Cabinet Shuffle
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory choked up a bit Tuesday morning when he announced that his friend, Sharon Decker, was leaving her post as Commerce secretary to take a job in the private sector. “I’m sad to announce that she is resigning as Commerce secretary,” McCrory said. “But she has left a legacy of jobs for North Carolina.”

(12.01.14) Experts: Governors Face Long Odds In Commission Lawsuit
RALEIGH — The North Carolina Supreme Court is likely to decide the “tremendously important” separation-of-powers lawsuit filed by Gov. Pat McCrory against General Assembly leaders over appointive powers to legislatively created commissions, former Justice Bob Orr says. Gerry Cohen, former special counsel to the General Assembly, says the language of the N.C. Constitution may not work to the governor’s favor.

(11.24.14) Obama Immigration Action Amplifies Partisan Divide
RALEIGH — President Obama’s decision to go it alone on immigration, granting legal status to more than 5 million illegal immigrants, brought a sharp rebuke from North Carolina Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation and its executive branch, while Democrats in the delegation gave Obama a pass, sayings Congress has had plenty of time to act on the issue.

(10.16.14) Lawmakers Not Yet Sold On Medicaid Expansion
RALEIGH — State Secretary of Health and Human Services Aldona Wos has told several media outlets that the foundation is in place for a more efficient and more effective Medicaid system, and that she will ask Gov. Pat McCrory to expand Medicaid in the near term. But before that happens, the governor will have to convince skeptical legislators.

(9.22.14) Price Tag For State Economic Incentives: $800 Million
RALEIGH — Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker recently spent four days in Tokyo on a trade mission attempting to recruit an automobile manufacturing facility to North Carolina, which could have taxpayer-funded incentives wrapped into the deal. Meanwhile, a legislative analysis shows that the state’s liability for such programs already could top $800 million.

(8.28.14) CJ Editorial: Legislators Deserve A Time-Out
Many legislative leaders behaved like petulant children at the end of the short session.

(8.06.14) McCrory To Feds: Stop Sending Illegal Minors to N.C.
RALEIGH — Citing health, public safety, criminal justice, and fiscal concerns, Gov. Pat McCrory Tuesday called for immediate federal action to address the relocation of 1,200 unaccompanied illegal-immigrant minors into North Carolina.
McCrory said he is unaware of any legal recourse preventing further federal distribution of illegal immigrants to North Carolina.

(8.01.14) Audit Rips DHHS Delays on NCTracks Medicaid Program
RALEIGH — State Auditor Beth Wood has chided the Department of Health and Human Services for dragging its feet in gaining federal certification for its NCTracks Medicaid information system, an omission that could cost the state $9.6 million a year. The department says it’s aiming for federal certification by October. But Wood says the department doesn’t have a plan to achieve that goal.

(7.03.14) Public Budget Negotiations Result in Breakthrough
RALEIGH — House and Senate budget negotiators cleared a major obstacle Wednesday by compromising on the Medicaid component of a $21 billion 2014-15 General Fund spending plan, but still face potentially prickly deliberations on Medicaid reform, teacher pay, and teacher tenure. Senators insisted that a Medicaid agreement would enable further talks.

(7.02.14) Late Budget From NCGA Nothing New
RALEIGH — Senate budget negotiators will meet Wednesday morning in a public “conference committee” to start ironing out differences between three fiscal plans: one proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory and two passed by each legislative chamber. The questions are whether House conferees will take part, and whether the Senate will consider a trimmed-down, adjusted budget the House passed last week.

(6.30.14) McCrory Embraces JLF ‘Reverse Logrolling’ As Cost-Cutting Tool
RALEIGH — As outlined in a June 23 memo from state budget director Art Pope to department heads and fiscal officers, each state department and agency would operate under the lower of the previously approved figures from the House and Senate for individual budget line items. Unlike the status quo, which would allow state government to operate at 2014-15 budget levels agreed to during last year’s budget debate, “reverse logrolling” would impose immediate cuts to agency and department budgets.

(5.15.14) McCrory’s Budget Raises Pay While Keeping Tax Cuts
RALEIGH — Gov Pat McCrory telegraphed his top spending priorities in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's unveiling of a $21 billion General Fund budget. The proposed 2014-15 budget is $359.5 million more than the current 2013-14 budget, representing a 1.7 percent increase. The spending plan includes modest spending increases even though the 2013 session of the General Assembly enacted a sweeping tax reform package including lower marginal tax rates.

(2.11.14) Governor, NCGA Leaders Unveil Teacher Pay Plan
JAMESTOWN — Early career teachers will get pay raises starting in the fiscal year beginning July 1, and teachers with up to seven years of service will collect double-digit percentage increases, Gov. Pat McCrory announced Monday. The package is expected to cost less than $200 million and will not require a tax increase.

(1.30.14) CJ Editorial: Gov. McCrory Needs No Reset
Many of the complaints from the Raleigh establishment about Pat McCrory's first year come from people who want him to govern like a liberal Democrat.

(1.22.14) McCrory: DHHS Too Big To Succeed?
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory suggested Tuesday that changes might be in order for one of the departments in state government that’s been a thorn in his side during a hectic first year in office, the Department of Health and Human Services. Without offering specifics, McCrory said the department will be considered as part of a previously announced reform initiative.

(1.21.14) Hartgen: Monroe Connector Deserves Fresh Review
RALEIGH — Taxpayers and motorists would be better served if the proposed Monroe Connector/Bypass were judged on a merit-based system adopted last year rather than the old system that typically rewarded political influence and geography, a top transportation planner said.

(1.13.14) Catawbas’ Bid For Off-Reservation Casino Has Precedent
KINGS MOUNTAIN — After a lengthy court battle, the federal government approved a casino project in Kansas City, Kans., for the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma because of the tribe’s historical link to the area. The Seneca Nation of New York opened an in-state but off-reservation casino in a litigation-heavy case that has some similar elements to the Catawba project.

(12.10.13) Audit: Medicaid Computer System Remains a Mess
RALEIGH — Widespread, serious flaws in the state Department of Health and Human Services’ long-suffering NCTracks Medicaid computer system might jeopardize more than $9 million in anticipated annual cost savings, according to a stinging state performance audit released late Monday afternoon.

(11.07.13) Better Roads, Better Jobs, Better Schools
Despite some negative headlines, the McCrory administration and the Republican-led General Assembly have made some historic accomplishments in their first year of work.

(10.22.13) State Wants Court To Toss Voter ID Suits
RALEIGH — The response by the state to the lawsuits was filed Monday in the U.S. Middle District Court. In addition to asking that the lawsuits be dismissed and that a judgment be entered for the state, the state asked to be awarded attorneys’ fees and further relief that the court may deem just and proper.

(10.01.13) McCrory Calls Federal Election Lawsuit ‘In The Fringes’
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday struck back at the federal government, saying the U.S. Department of Justice was “working in the fringes.” McCrory, a Republican, said the state would defend the lawsuit filed by the Democratic administration of President Barack Obama against the state’s new election laws vigorously.

(9.05.13) Governor 0-for-2 During Veto Override Session
RALEIGH — Before this week, the only time the General Assembly had overridden the veto of a governor who shared the same political party as the legislative majority occurred in 2008. That override also occurred during a reconvened veto session, which at the time was another first.

(8.29.13) Experts See Election Reforms Having Little Effect On Turnout
RALEIGH — Recent modifications to North Carolina’s election laws — including changes affecting voter identification, early voting, same-day voter registration, and absentee ballot applications — would have almost no effect on voter turnout, voting experts say. Even those critical of the new law say it’s difficult to gauge what impact it should have on elections in the state.

(8.19.13) DOT Official: Getting ID For Voting Should Be “Pretty Simple” For Out-Of-State Students
RALEIGH — While an out-of-state driver’s license or ID card issued by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles will suffice for people who registered to vote within 90 days of their first North Carolina election, they’ll need to obtain a different photo ID card for subsequent elections. “It should be pretty simple,” said Steve Abbott, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Transportation.

(7.31.13) Major Regulatory Reform Caps Legislative Session
RALEIGH — Lawmakers wrapped up the 2013 legislative session with a bill embracing broad regulatory reform. The 68-page bill crossed into several functions of state government and reached into the powers of local governments. The bill sought to rein in regulations and requirements that some local governments put on businesses, such as requiring sick leave or preventing billboard owners from cutting trees blocking their signs.

(7.26.13) McCrory Touts Successes, Expresses Concerns at Session’s End
RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday he planned to sign into law two contentious bills that cleared the General Assembly during the waning hours of the 2013 session — a voter ID/election reform measure, and legislation expanding regulations at abortion clinics. He said several other bills on his desk gave him heartburn, and could lead to vetoes.

(7.25.13) State Budget Awaits Governor’s Signature
RALEIGH — The $20.6 billion General Fund budget is on its way to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk. The budget, which included $10 million for eugenics compensation, eliminated teacher tenure, and added $1.5 billion to help meet anticipated Medicaid expenses, brought sharp debate on both chambers on Wednesday.

(7.15.13) Commerce Overhaul Draws Scrutiny of Senate, Transparency Advocates
RALEIGH — While the McCrory administration is hailing an overhaul of the way North Carolina recruits business, open government advocates worry that the new North Carolina Economic Development Partnership may perpetuate the state’s system of closed-door dealings and secret incentives. The General Assembly has put the brakes on the changes as well.

(7.10.13) UPDATE: Unemployment Debt Is A State Responsibility
RALEIGH — Recent media reports have floated the notion that the state’s business community is responsible for retiring $2.5 billion in debt to the federal government for underfunded unemployment benefits. But according to state government's annual financial report, there is no dispute about the identity of the borrower. "In February 2009, because of depleted cash balances,” states the 2012 report, “the State began borrowing from the U.S. Treasury to ensure the uninterrupted payment of State unemployment benefits.”

(7.09.13) McCrory Says Tax Reform Is ‘Very Close’
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory sounded an optimistic note while discussing tax reform during a Monday press conference marking his first six months in office. McCrory, a Republican, discussed a number of issues during the session with reporters.

(6.27.13) McCrory: Commerce Revamp Will Aid Business Recruitment
RALEIGH — Administration officials hope the move would free up efforts to recruit businesses while providing rewards for the individuals who bring jobs to the state, not just tax breaks and cash incentives to the businesses themselves. Senate Bill 127, allowing the Department of Commerce to contract with a nonprofit corporation to conduct economic development functions, passed an initial House vote 76-38.

(6.05.13) JLF Co-Authors Report Calling McCrory Medicaid Plan ‘Critical Step Forward’
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory's Medicaid reform plan marks a "critical step forward" to help create a pro-patient, pro-taxpayer health care safety net. That's the conclusion of a new Policy Report from the John Locke Foundation and the Florida-based Foundation for Government Accountability. The report offers nine ideas to help upgrade McCrory's model, dubbed the Partnership for a Healthy North Carolina.

(5.20.13) Institute of Medicine Study Overstates Number of Uninsured Due to Medicaid Rejection
RALEIGH — A study by the North Carolina Institute of Medicine concludes that 500,000 people would be left uninsured by the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. But the estimate is contradicted by that same study, as well as other state sources.

(5.20.13) Telemedicine Initiative Could Deliver Mental Health Services More Effectively
RALEIGH — Under the proposal, officials at emergency rooms or jails would be able to connect with psychiatric professionals in real time via two-way video for assessments and care instructions. Such a system could reduce the time it takes for a patient to receive care, and free up emergency room and psychiatric hospital beds much faster, reducing costs.

(5.14.13) McCrory’s Medicaid Team Pitching Reforms to Skeptical Public
GREENSBORO — The physicians, health care organizations, academics, and interested citizens gathered at the town hall meeting Thursday in the Old Guilford County Courthouse were boisterous in opposing Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos’ advocacy of proposed free-market reforms to Medicaid.

(5.09.13) McCrory Plan Uses Highway Dollars Wisely
The governor's plan for transportation funding allows smarter spending of the money we now collect.

(4.26.13) McCrory Says State Information Technology Must Keep Pace With Private Sector
RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory announced Thursday that state government would house an Information Technology Innovation Center as information specialists seek to solve technology problems and collaborate on solutions. Chris Estes, state government’s chief information officer, said state agencies will start measuring their success against businesses with large online presences.

(4.23.13) Audit Slams Information Technology Cost Overruns
RALEIGH — Among the 84 Information Technology Services projects the auditor’s office reviewed, costs were $356.3 million more than originally estimated, or about twice the cost. Projects took about 389 days longer to complete than state agencies originally estimated, the report says.

(4.04.13) McCrory Announces Bold Medicaid Proposal
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory hopes to inject market-based solutions into the state’s costly Medicaid system, shifting the burden of controlling systemic budget overruns from state taxpayers to managed care contractors that would offer competing statewide plans. McCrory wants the plan to be ready for a July 2015 rollout.

(4.04.13) CJ Editorial: A (Mostly) Wise and Frugal Budget
The governor's first budget doesn't try to do too much, and that's a good thing.

(3.21.13) McCrory’s Initial Budget Shores Up Existing Programs
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory unveiled his first budget Wednesday that would spend $20.6 billion in the next fiscal year, an increase of about 2.2 percent over the current fiscal year’s General Fund budget. The total state budget, including federal funds, fee collections, and other revenues, is $49.6 billion.

(3.06.13) McCrory Hits Liberal Groups For ‘Evisceration’ Plans
RALEIGH — Gov. Pat McCrory, in a press conference Tuesday that touched also on voter ID, fracking, and illegal-immigrant driver's licenses, said it is “reprehensible” that a smear campaign is being organized against him and other Republican leaders by liberal groups seeking to derail their ability to govern.

(2.20.13) McCrory Signs Unemployment Insurance Reforms
RALEIGH — House Bill 4 increases taxes for some employers, shortens the number of weeks an unemployed worker is eligible for benefits, and reduces the maximum benefits such a person can receive. The federal government has slapped a surcharge on businesses as a means of repaying a $2.5 billion debt accumulated during the Great Recession.

(2.14.13) DHHS Secretary Tells Lawmakers Of Agency Disarray
RALEIGH — Secretary Aldona Wos said the Department of Health and Human Services, the state’s second-largest bureaucracy with an $18 billion budget, is entangled in legal woes, lacks supervisory accountability, rushes multimillion-dollar payments through chaotic processes, and routinely fails to complete timely financial and operational reports vital to legislative oversight and department effectiveness.

(2.01.13) PARODY: Perdue Shares Job-Announcement Form With McCrory
RALEIGH — In honor of the Department of Commerce's first jobs announcement since Pat McCrory became governor, Carolina Journal has decided to share the template McCrory and his recent predecessors have used to take credit for positive economic news in North Carolina.

(1.14.13) Prospective Charter Schools Applications Surge Into Raleigh
RALEIGH — Potential charter school operators, including two that would operate online, flooded the state with 154 letters of intent to open in fall 2014, punctuating a growing appetite for alternatives to traditional public education.

(1.12.13) McCrory Sees Promise in North Carolina‘s Main Streets
RALEIGH — Pat McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, is the first Republican governor inaugurated in North Carolina since Jim Martin in January 1989. McCrory used a theme of government backing Main Street, not hindering it, throughout his inaugural address.