Hopefully, governor first does no harm

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

We thought it might be tough to take Gov. Pat McCrory’s State of the State address seriously when he opened with comments about the “sacrifice” endured by his cabinet members in the weeks since he was sworn in.
You may remember that McCrory gave them all raises on their $100,000-plus salaries as they took their jobs. Only one – Aldona Wos of health and human services – refused that pay, accepting only $1 from the state.
The governor’s comment about the cabinet’s sacrifice came less than 24 hours before he would sign into law drastic cuts to unemployment insurance in the name of helping the state live within its means.
Despite that decision, we’re happy to report that we did find some ideas in McCrory’s address that we could get behind.

  • Less money for lottery advertising. Currently, advertising and marketing costs come from 4 percent of lottery funds. That’s decreased from years past. We wouldn’t be sad to see that reduced further. We agree with the governor that the ads aren’t that great. We’d rather see more money spent on public education.
  • More money for classroom technology. Durham Public Schools has had to step up on its own, with approval from the Board of County Commissioners, to invest $9 million in bond money to refresh tech throughout the district.
  • Improved funding for drug courts. State legislators cut millions from the budget for these vital courts and Durham leaders had to dip into local coffers to make up some of the loss here. But, as N.C. Policy Watch reports, Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey said “we’re running out of treatment money, and we’re relying on the services within the community to come in with no extra compensation to staff this drug court. And we’re not even beginning to touch the number of people who need it.”

McCrory noted during the address that, in his first five weeks, he has stepped on toes on both the left and the right.
“I’m not doing it to cause pain, but to get us to stand up and recognize that we must solve our serious problems now to prevent pain for future generations,” he said.
We’re not sure everything on his agenda works toward that “first do no harm” sort of approach. But, as noted, we do think some of the ideas brought up during McCrory’s address show promise.
Durham’s own Larry Hall, House Minority Leader, gave the Democratic response to the governor’s address on Monday.
 “In recent years, Republicans have slashed teachers and increased class sizes,” Hall said. “They have continually asked our teachers to do more with less. It’s time to end this cycle. It’s time to invest in our schools and our future by giving teachers the tools they need to help our students succeed. We should treat our teachers like professionals and our students like our future.”
We hope Gov. McCrory agrees that reforming education means something other than more deep cuts to budgets.