2014 offers new challenges to McCrory

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Gov. Pat McCrory might have been even happier than the rest of us to see 2013 in his rear view mirror.

His first year in office proved bumpy, to say the least.

The transition from an outdated computer system stalled Medicaid payments to health care providers and has even spurred a lawsuit. The same Department of Health and Human Services responsible for the Medicaid debacle ran into other snafus in processing food stamp benefits on time for hungry people.

Reporters raised questions about high salaries for former McCrory campaign aides. The N.C. General Assembly followed its own agenda in 2013, while McCrory watched from the sidelines. He vetoed only two bills, and both vetoes were overridden by the legislature. On top of all that, the new governor’s approval rating fell from 42 percent in December to 37 percent.

Little wonder that McCrory is hoping for better days in 2014.

Toward that end, the governor this week rolled out a modest list of goals for the new year. Among them:

  • Pay raises for teachers. McCrory has not explained where the money will come from, and he stopped short of saying he would like to see North Carolina teachers’ pay meet the national average, as it once did, but increasing teachers’ salaries is a priority, he said.
  • Energy exploration. The governor wants North Carolina to proceed with plans to harvest natural gas and oil from potential reserves, both inland and offshore.
  • Reviewing the missteps of the Department of Health and Human Services. McCrory pledges to make the department more efficient.
  • Improving state infrastructure. Besides renovation and repair, McCrory would like to add art to overpasses and bridges.
  • Combatting substance abuse on college campuses. McCrory wants to discourage early-age drinking and offer help to students with addictions.
  • Regulating puppy mills. First Lady Ann McCrory has said she would like to pass a new law that will discourage irresponsible dog breeders. The governor shares her concern.

As McCrory prepares to go to work with the legislature in its upcoming short session, we would urge the governor to remind lawmakers that only he is elected statewide. His agenda and promises are assessed by all of us, not by one district.

That should give McCrory some needed clout as he takes on the important business of North Carolina.