Five weeks into his first term, Gov. Pat McCrory had plenty to say about the ugly parts of state government – everything from outdated computers to long waits at the DMV – but he offered few specifics during his State of the State address Monday on how he plans to take the state forward.
There was plenty to cheer and plenty to disappoint Democratic critics. Most of McCrory’s speech centered on three themes – the economy, education and government efficiency.
In an address that actually began a couple of minutes earlier than scheduled, there was nothing subtle about the governor’s passion for jump-starting the state’s economy. Restructuring tax policy is crucial in order to make North Carolina more competitive for new industries and jobs, he said.
McCrory stopped short of saying whether personal and corporate income taxes should be eliminated, as some Republican legislators have suggested, or simply reduced.
Nor did he weigh in with specifics on how the state should make up the revenue that would be lost with such a reform.
He reiterated his support for oil and natural gas exploration and noted that the states with the strongest economies are the ones that already have thriving energy-related industries.
Schools must continue to incorporate high technology in the classroom, the governor said. And education can no longer occupy four separate silos devoted to pre-K, kindergarten through high school, community colleges and the University of North Carolina system.
McCrory’s administration already has adopted a new emphasis on customer service, he said, noting that a recent snafu related to overcharges on toll roads in the Triangle resulted in personal phone calls and apologies to every driver affected by the error.
McCrory is still outlining the goals for his term in broad strokes, even as the N.C. General Assembly addresses issues like the Affordable Care Act and unemployment benefits through specific legislation.
How the governor begins to fill in the particulars of his canvas remains to be seen.