North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory delivers biennial speech to legislature

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Gov. Pat McCrory gave lawmakers his take on the first two years of his term and what he wants to accomplish in the next two Wednesday night.

The Republican governor addressed a joint session of the General Assembly for the biennial State of the State address.

Click here to watch the governor's full speech.

In laying out his vision for the Tar Heel State, McCrory returned to some familiar themes and branched off in new directions.

McCrory teared up at the start of his 80 minute speech introducing State Trooper Michael Potts who was shot on duty just before the governor's first State of the State address two years ago.

McCrory said his administration would focus on five areas over the second half of his first term: jobs, education, infrastructure, health care, and government efficiency. He started his speech with jobs.

"We want to ensure that everyone who wants a job can find a job in a vibrant North Carolina economy," said McCrory.

The governor also suggested restoring the historic tax credit to "revitalize main streets across the state." On energy exploration, he said "North Carolina is off the bench and in the game."

When he turned to education, the governor returned to familiar territory. He renewed his promise from last year to raise the starting salary for all North Carolina teachers to $35,000. McCrory also suggested that there should be less testing in schools, for students' and teachers' sake.

"We need to give them the gift of time, testing less and letting them teach more. Our goal is to make North Carolina a teaching destination," said McCrory.

On infrastructure, the governor broke new ground calling for a $1.2 billion transportation bond to rebuild roads, bridges, and ports and expand the state's transportation system.

McCrory also suggested a $1.4 billion dollar bond to fix the state's crumbling buildings and languishing properties.

"We're going to fix things in this state," said McCrory.

The governor also opened the door on Medicaid expansion.

"Any plan must require personal and financial responsibility for those who would be covered," he said. "I will only recommend a North Carolina plan, not a Washington plan. So we can put patients first."

The speech was met with mixed reviews, with Republicans perhaps more skeptical than Democrats. We asked Republican Sen. Bob Rucho about the two bond initiatives.

"We're having the treasurer's office take a look at the availability," said Rucho. "We want to make sure we have the money to accomplish it."

Hall responds to State of the State address

RALEIGH -- The prepared text of the Democratic response to Gov. Pat McCrory's State of the State address on Wednesday by House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham:

Good evening North Carolina, I'm Larry Hall and I am honored to serve as Democratic Leader for the N.C. House of Representatives. I have always been proud to be a North Carolinian. We've always been a state where anyone willing to work hard could succeed.

My father was a career Army officer and our family lived at Fort Bragg before moving to Durham. I am proud to have attended and graduated from North Carolina public schools and to have earned a law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

My teachers here in North Carolina gave me the foundation needed to succeed in a 16-year career as an Infantry Officer in the United States Marine Corps and as an attorney while my wife worked as public school teacher. When I left active duty in the Marines at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, I chose to remain here and make my home in North Carolina. I began practicing law, and eventually ran for public office.

I want to ensure my children and grandchildren, and your children and grandchildren, have the same opportunities I had and more - a shot at a good job, the chance to succeed, and the ability to provide an even better life for their families. As a Marine Corps Infantry Officer, I've served with America's best and brightest, most patriotic and dedicated. Our Motto is Semper Fidelis - Always Faithful. Although the recession of the past few years has been tough, I believed that, digging deep, we would bounce back. I never lost faith that we could come back. I was always faithful in North Carolina.

Today, middle-class families in other states are finally a little more optimistic about their future, more secure in their mortgages and more confident in their ability to provide for their families. But the fact is too many families here in North Carolina are still living paycheck to paycheck. Too many moms and dads are staying up at night worrying about creating a better future for their children. For them, the recovery just isn't complete yet. Now is the time to focus on building an economy that works for everyone, not just the very wealthy and a chosen few.

Here in North Carolina, quality public schools have always been the foundation of our economic prosperity. In 20 years, our children and grandchildren will be competing for jobs that don't even exist today. We need to make sure they get a quality education that prepares them to compete for the jobs of the future.

But the fact is Gov. McCrory is failing our students. Under his administration, North Carolina now ranks 48th in classroom spending. Our teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and states like Texas are holding job fairs here and convincing some of our best and brightest to move away. We owe it to ourselves and our state to do better.

We have great teachers and we must give them the support they deserve.

If you really want to know how our schools are doing, just ask a teacher or parent. I've heard story after story of teachers buying supplies out of their own pockets or students working with outdated textbooks.

We need to stop cutting and start investing in our students. It's time to stop asking our students and teachers to do more with less - year after year. We need to make sure our children are given the tools to compete in the 21st century and that is something Gov. McCrory and the Republican legislature have simply failed to do.

Gov. McCrory often brags about an economic comeback. But when it comes to the middle-class, all we've seen is rhetoric.

This year, my colleagues and I are focused on meaningful support for middle-class families. That means tax relief that every day people can feel, tax cuts that help small businesses grow here at home instead of lining the pockets of CEOs in Texas and China. And it means a commitment that if you work hard, you'll be able to get ahead and make a better future for your family.

This year in Raleigh, North Carolina House Democrats pledge to you that we will work to put the middle-class first, work to expand educational opportunity, and work to put more money in the pockets of everyday, hardworking North Carolinians.

We are committed to working with Governor McCrory and anyone interested in meeting these goals.

Thank you.

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