I've met them all. I've had governors come in and reverse decisions of legislative leaders with ten or fifteen members who we thought were going to have a certain position. Governors have immense power. And now that they have veto in North Carolina, it's even more than just immense. It's an active role in law making and legislating. The governors over here, his people sit in with the majority party when they're deciding budget matters, when they're deciding subsistent matters on laws and stuff. Come on. The governor ought to be able to convince four or five out of 34 Republicans that he has the right idea about something. Or if he can't, it must not be the right idea. And that raises some other questions. But certainly, certainly, an executive official ought to be able to get at least 15 to 20% of the people in his party to agree that he's going down the right path in deciding what the priorities of the state ought to be. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So is your strategy for this session to try to convince Governor McCrory [SP] to carry your agenda? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No. What we will do is tell him possibilities, expose possibilities of what North Carolina can be. We will be strong advocates for our agenda. We will advocate it. We will try to convince people that it's where the state ought to go. The issues that I was raising with you are kinds of things that we believe very passionately in and will work hard for. But, at the same time, the governor has to have things that he feels passionately about in ways that he can move the state forward. And we are willing to work with him to achieve those things that he feels very strongly about, but it's going to take the help of some of his fellow partisans. Not fellow partisans in this sense but some of his party members to get some of these things done. If he is unwilling to go outside what the leadership in the Senate says they want and convince members individually that he's got a vision that's better for the state, then, no, he will not get the things done that he's indicated he's going to pay attention to. At least that I've seen him say he wants to focus on for the next four or five months. But we offer ourselves, again, as a willing partner, to share a vision and to help him move this state forward in the areas I've talked about....in job creation and in making sure that the middle class gets the benefits of some of these things that we've tried to do here over the last three or four years. And in educating our kids. So we offer ourselves as a partner. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Marks question cuts into what I wanted to get into. And really that's more along the lines of in general terms if you both could access the state of the Democratic party right now both in your chamber and also across the state. You've got Tilus [SP] who tauted the conservative revolution and now he's senator and he just ousted a Democrat. And, also as a backdrop, you have the moral Monday movement and how it's been certainly very vocal against a lot of the conservatives who are in office, and we see how the election turned out. If you could access the status of the party. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, from the standpoint of the legislature? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have a sense of where we need to go. Now, I learned in sand lots and stuff as a little kid in kindergarten that if you're competing for something and somebody stacks the deck at 45 degree angles, then you're going to slide down the other side and it's tough to have a fair fight. You mentioned Tilus being elected to the United States Senate by the smallest margin of any senator who got elected in this last cycle I believe. So you had 48/49% of this state voting democratic. If you had 48/49% of the legislature as democrat, you wouldn't ask me that question. And so you have to ask why you have to ask that question. And that is because the deck has been stacked so one-sided in the way that they drew these districts that they basically make 25 to 30% of the state irrelevant in participating in the discussions in how the state ought to be governed. Because you totally ignore the democratic members in both chambers. So that is a stacked deck. We'll keep fighting against that. The Democratic party is geared to fight for it and we'll continue to do that. There's going to be a reorganization of the state party in the next several months because [END OF AUDIO]
Other elections for new officers and new directions and so we're looking forward to that, but then as the elected officials in this body we're ready to proceed with the kinds of messages and the kinds of agenda that help move the state forward on the grounds that I just mentioned to you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And one closing comment on that. We have to be really careful about how we characterize what the facts are, you know? If you look at local elections across the state, equal voting for democrats in their county commission and other races that they had and you'll have municipal elections as well, and so the demise of the democratic party may be overstated here. If you look at some of the House seats that we were competitive in and the ones that we won and if you look at some of the republicans that were defeated, you'll see that they're not invincible. That some of their top members did lose in some of those elections. So we're going forward on the issues that we believe in. Again, the way we looked at education last cycle and we helped make that a priority, we weren't irrelevant in that and we see the results in the increase in starting pay for teachers and education and we'll do that in other areas. So, again, take a, maybe it's time to take a broader picture and a broader look and see what the citizens really are saying by the way they vote in certain races. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The third branch of government has been chiming in as well. The Chief Justice has been talking about court funding and the operating budget for the courts have fallen by 40% since the recession. Seems like an issue that your leadership would get behind as well to restore some funding for operating the courts and also to raise salaries. Any comment on that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I've told the Chief Justices and the justices on the Supreme Court and the judges on the court of appeals, as a lawyer I know the importance not just as a lawyer, everybody knows the importance of the third branch, but I see what they're talking about when they say technology is 20-30 years behind and, you know, if a full branch of government is not keeping up with the other two, is not keeping up with the industry and stuff that it's trying to regulate or trying to pass judgement on, then you're not gonna get justice in the way that you ought to have it. I agree with the Chief Justice, I agree with the court that the resources in our courts is abysmally low and something has to be done about it. On the other hand, as I tell the court, and I really mean this, they are an equal branch of government and they have the rare distinction of being the branch of government that determines whether or not how they're being treated is fair. The Constitution basically calls them a co-equal branch and if they can't carry out the duties that the Constitution mandates for them to carry out, it might be that they need to be more proactive in ensuring that this legislature and the governor, both legislative and executive branches hear what they say and hear their concerns. Now, you know, there's some question, you go back to the Leandro decision. The court is a little bit reluctant sometimes to tell the legislature how they've got to get involved in funding things, but that might be one of the Constitutional mandates for the court, but short of that, this General Assembly ought to be more sensitive to adequately funding the courts because justice and fairness are hallmarks of this democracy that we're in and you can't have that if you can't get the courts to work in the way they should. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I wonder if we're gonna see the democrats put forth any call to action legislation specifically with language that might try to prevent it from passing the cost, you know, costs on to rate payers. That was something that came up last session and was defeated in committee. I was wondering if we were gonna see anything like that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I don't know that you'll see it as a specific bill, and that was part of the questions we, we had today, but I'm sure there will be advocates in our party for the proper treatment of the consumers, of the taxpayers, and certainly in a situation where you have a logical byproduct of an activity, this economic activity, we would expect everyone who was involved in the process to pay their fair share, and if they've mishandled it just like in all other situations, they should pay the costs as opposed to taking bonuses during a period of time they have been in charge of these companies and paying also dividends to taxpayers during these same periods of times when these violations would've occurred, have occurred, and then later when they are discovered to say no, we'll put it on the rate payer, so I'm sure whether it's amendments to bills, discussions in committee, whatever, you will see that fairness and that advocacy for the consumers who have already paid for this to be done in a safe manner. You will see, I'm quite sure, people from our party saying we should treat the citizens fairly, the consumers
[inaudible] [SPEAKER CHANGES] One more then we'll cut if off. It's great to see, anybody have one more? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I have a quick one. Specifically on the environment I wonder where your push for, initiative for jobs and some of the environmental concerns that might circle around, say, fracking or offshore drilling or some of the things that we might hear from [??] when they have their press conference in 30 minutes. To what degree, how will democrats balance those concerns for the environment with your own push for jobs? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, and I'll be real brief on it, speak on it a little bit. When we look at the job creation from renewable energies industry in North Carolina, one of the top job growth industries as opposed to other states. That's one thing. The second thing as far as the cost of clean ups and the damage that we suffer by people's, again, medical conditions and the impact that they have, needing treatment as a result of those, we have to figure that into the calculation. So it's not just the simple calculation of saying there was a job that was in this particular industry. What costs do we pay generally for this industry to operate in the way it operates and who pays that cost and who benefits when the industry is conducted in that manner. So we have to have a broader evaluation of is this really job creation or is this an expense that we're incurring that we pay society wide. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah, I think we recognize that we are sensitive to a lot of the environmental concerns that have been raised on a broad range of issues, the whole regulatory scheme and the ability to act with reduced jobs and all that. We think that fracking is basically going to become a non-issue because most of the reports are indicating that the folk who could afford to do it don't think that there's enough to invest in North Carolina and so they're probably not going to do it. If that issue starts coming to fruition and starts coming to fruition and causes concern, we'll certainly be actively involved in debating some of the environmental issues and other ways to ensure the safety of our citizenry. This has been great. We'll do it again. Hope to see you in two weeks. Be careful in this ice. [post-meeting inaudible crosstalk, movement and mechanical noises from 02:21-05:00]
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Good afternoon. I apologize for being late. I think what we found was that Speaker Moore was in one room waiting on me and I was in another room waiting on him. [SPEAKER CHANGES] This isn't an omen, is it? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No. We're still smiling. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We came together at the end, so there you go, it's all perfect. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So welcome, we appreciate you all being here. The speaker and I will take your questions in just a few minutes. I think we both would like to just talk about a couple of things in advance. I want to express my appreciation to my Senate colleagues for, again, selecting me as the Senate President Pro Tem, looking forward to the next, this upcoming session, and in the next two years working with the members of the Senate, working with Tim Moore as Speaker of the House and the House members and working with Governor McCrory and people in the executive branch to hopefully continue some of the things that we've done over the past two and four years. A couple of those things, as you've heard me talk about before, is tax reform, I think we're beginning to see the fruits of a lot of work that went into the tax reform that took place. I think it has made North Carolina a more competitive state in terms of our business tax climate, the rankings are fairly clear as far as that's concerned. Another thing that we had done, and I think you'll see us continue to work on, is regulatory reform, trying to address the interface between government and the need that we have to move forward with protecting people and protecting our environment and the business community and the need we have for a strong business community for job creation and the economic development that occurs there. So we'll continue to do that. We decided that we'd let me kick this off because I 'm sort of repeating and Tim's the new guy, so I am extremely pleased that the House has selected Tim Moore as its speaker. I am looking forward to working together with Tim. We've known each other for a number of years, we've shared some dark nights in other places and have had a good time and have worked together on a number of things. So, Tim, welcome and I understand you have some things you want to say. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thanks, Bill. Well good afternoon. First off, thank you all for being here today given the weather. We've had a very good session today, a good start to the session with unanimous votes, both for the rules for the Speaker and for the Speaker Pro Tempore. I hope that that indeed is what is setting the tone for this upcoming legislative session. We've accomplished a lot these last four years. We've done so much as far as increasing the employment of folks in this state, creating jobs, roughly 260,000 people now have jobs that didn't four years ago. We've lowered the unemployment insurance taxes, we have worked tirelessly to try to bring new jobs to this state and we want to continue doing that. We've passed major initiatives for transportation and we've worked to improve education in this great state. So we've had a great partnership, Bill and I have worked closely together over the last four years and even when we were in the minority in our respective chambers and we are friends and I believe we are going to have a very productive session this year. You all know the issues we are going to be dealing with and we are already having dialogue and we're looking to find common ground to reach those solutions. I do want to thank my House colleagues for their vote of confidence today. It's a humbling experience. I had a lot of my family here today, my two sons, somebody stumbled and fell and my youngest one saw it and he just about couldn't keep a straight face at that point so we got through that, that was probably the toughest part because then her brothers are ones looking at the other
Other ??? but it went very well. It was a very, very nice occasion having everybody's family's here and all and I think it actually sets starts us off setting the right tone. That it it's not about us individually as legislators, it's about families and it's about the people of this great state. It is an honor to be here it's a little different. You're old hat at this; I'm a little new at this. Looking forward to getting to work, and I'm glad to take any questions at the appropriate time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can you state your question, Tom. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can you expand on what you mean by expanding tax reform or taking tax reform further. Are you going to be shoring up loop holes here or a little tightening it up or really advancing the cause. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think we've made a lot of progress in connection with tax reform over the past several years. I think it is something that we will continually look at. As far as specifics I don't have anything specific to propose or to bring to ya. I've read and seen on some of the things that y'all have reported on that there are some members who are talking about a number of things. I'm sure there will be bills introduced and we'll take a look at them and we'll see what has support and what doesn't have support. I would say that there is a sense amongst a number of folks that we've made some big changes, we are seeing some results, we are seeing some things that we like, and we've got some things that we need to let a little more time go before we know exactly how we're doing. So we'll just. I'm sure there will be bills introduced as to what we be taken up and what will be passed we ware gonna be here for a while. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Quick follow-up then. Can you, can you talk about your confidence that the decisions made in that tax round, last round of tax rounds were the right ones since it seems that we have less money coming in to the state now. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Absolutely, John. Listen what we are talking about is, at this point, some folks think is actually a timing issue. We have, I think we're running, $190 million dollars behind projections and there are a lot of folks who think that what we are dealing with is situation that has to do with the timing. Remember our sales tax collections are up substantially. Our corporate income tax collections are up. Where we are lagging behind the projections is with individual income taxes. Now the other thing you need to think about is we're talking about maybe $200 million dollars, 190 million dollars, in the context of a $20 billion dollar budget. Now, when we first got here, we were looking at a short fall of $2.5 billion dollars. This is not something that is from my perspective and I would say from the perspective of most of our members is something that we would consider to be a major concern, something that we would consider to be an indication that there's a problem somewhere so I feel very good about the tax reform. I feel very good about the direction we are going in. There's a need always for us to take a look at things and if something needs to be done we'll see what needs to be done. ??? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just a follow-up. I hear what you are saying about a percentage of the overall budget but it's still not chump change and there's a lot of things that a lot of legislators have said they want to do this year including that you've pledged to get starting teacher pay up to $35,000 dollars this year. If it turns out that it's not a timing issue, what happens? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm not going to deal with hypotheticals as far as that's concerned. We were able to deal with a $2.5 billion dollar short fall. If we end up with a situation where we are short from the projections we'll manage. We will manage in a way that will continue to move North Carolina in the right direction, continue to move North Carolina forward, continue to fund the schools at levels that need to be funded, continue to take care of our social safety net. It is something that, in the grand scheme of things, is no where near the scope of the issue of what we've dealt with before today. Tim, you can talk. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You are doing great. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well this is a quick question regarding tax reform. One of the things that was included in the changes to the tax code was really broadening the base and that is something that the bond agencies have wanted to see for a long time. There was a little bit of broadening but not as much as people on both sides of the aisle say really should happen just for the state's economy to be on good footing. Is that something you'd like to see? A broadening of the tax base? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I. You want to take it or you want me to take it? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I take the tough questions. You take the easy ones? I'm glad to take it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let's both do it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Perfect. Go ahead. We'll get this worked out eventually.
There are a number of members who are still talking about broadening the base. I think there'll be some discussion about that. I have not counted noses. I'm sure the speaker has not counted noses. I don't know where we would be with that, haven't seen a specific proposal, but I do think it's part of that larger discussion. I don't think you're ever finished with looking at what sorts of policies are appropriate for you to consider to try to make things better. So I think there'll be some discussions about that. It's kinda early for me to see whether or not we're going to have any specific legislation approved or even introduced at this point. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And I agree with Phil on this. It's too early to tell. I have always supported limiting taxes and so anytime you talk about broadening the base, you want to get into the, that's a conversation that really goes beyond one we can fully have today because I feel certain on our side we wanna make sure that anything we do along those lines would be revenue neutral in other ways. [SPEAKER CHANGES] [??] Earlier, just a few moments ago, your democratic counterparts were here talking about some changes to ethics laws in light of what has been occurring with some accusations made regarding Governor McCrory. Two of the things, one would be to place a ban on outside earned income for full-time politicians like Governor McCrory and others. Second, we can do a statement of economic interest to provide more detail about how much money people have received or the size of stuff. What do you think about changes to the ethics laws to provide what they would say is more disclosure and more transparency about what elected officials have going on outside of this building? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have some very extensive ethics laws already that cover everything. I haven't seen what their proposal is so I don't know the details of it and from everything I've seen there's no merit to the criticism, frankly, that's been levied against the governor on this. It appears that it's coming from a liberal activist group and it's all politically motivated, and it's always unfortunate when that happens. It's always better if we can focus on the merits of issues and not get into those kinds of things like that, but we have to disclose quite a bit as it is. I'm not sure what else you would disclose that we don't already, and so I don't know the merits, the specifics of what they're talking about. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Either as a follow up or Senator Berger can chime in, for instance, the Federal Disclosure Form says you have to provide a range of how much you own on a [??] stock or how much you receive from this consultant or x, right now SCI just says anything about $10,000 and doesn't put a more narrow dollar amount. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think if a bill's introduced to make specific changes or if we get a recommendation from the ethics commission that certain things may need to be modified, obviously we're going to take a look at it, but like the Speaker this is the first I've heard of this, so it is not really something. [SPEAKER CHANGES] First I heard of it too 30 minutes ago. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, it's easier to ask the question than it is to answer the question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's what they tell me anyway. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's right. [SPEAKER CHANGES] What can we expect to come up this session with the Senate, whether it's Jdig, the owner's already said that he wants something to happen in the early weeks of the session and you've got the film senate folks still rattling cages and historic preservation, what can we expect in any chamber on any of them or all of them? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Want me to go first this time? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We'll flip a coin. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That question actually in some sense, in some way piggybacks on the question about tax reform because some of what you're talking about are things that were dealt with in tax reform, and so I'm sure there are folks who would like to revisit some of those and discuss some of those. The Governor has indicated for some time now and Secretary Skvarla has also indicated that they would like to see the legislature consider and pass some changes to our incentive structure. I would like to defer until I see specifically what they are proposing. You know, we had a bill last time, I think it was 1224, that passed the Senate, there were some parts in the bill that folks in the House didn't like and we were unable to see that passed into law, so let's see what the Governor proposes. I
I think there's support in both the House and the Senate, you can speak to the House cause you were in it. But I think there's support for doing everything that we can to try to make North Carolina a competitive place for the creation of jobs. Does that mean that we continue to go down the incentives road that we've seen in the past? Do we do some other things in addition to the tax reform? And we just have to have that discussion, and let's see what the governor proposes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ??? Mention on that, House Bill 1224 that was talked about, that's an example of a bill where a form actually ended up killing and trumping the substance last year. The reason House Bill 1224 failed, in my opinion, was not because of the incentives part, it was because of a lot of the other things that we loaded on the deal. And I certainly share responsibility in that as Rules Chairman at the time. And so we took that as a learning lesson on our side to try to be more focused, but when I talk to our colleagues in the House, when it comes to just head-on, direct, deal with incentives, nobody loves incentives that I know of, nobody likes them. So the question is, what do you do to allow North Carolina to be competitive with other states? We've made a lot of great strides these last four years by lowering the overall tax burden, by passing regulatory reform. By doing the good things that we've done. But we may, in certain instances, need some incentives. I agree with Senator Burr that we need to collaborate with the folks at commerce, we need to find out what it is they need, and I believe that we're ready to try to help. At the end of the day, we do wanna see more jobs come to this state, and whatever we can do within reason, certainly on the House side, we're prepared to do that. [SPEAKER CHANGE] With Chiquita announcing today that they're going to pull out of Charlotte, they were recipients of incentives, ??? do you think? [SPEAKER CHANGE] That's the first I heard of that, I hate to hear that news with Chiquita though. You don't know why companies locate, you don't know why they leave sometimes. Back before I was here, I was active with our local economic development commission, and I'm in a county that's been economically distressed, a rural county right on the state line. We could look across the state line and see what was going on in Greenville-Spartanburg. We saw what happened with BMW, we saw the other growth. We saw where we would come up short sometimes, and where we would land companies, and sometimes you wondered if you were being used, for example, to play against and negotiate in other states. So it's hard to really get in there and know the real reasons that things happen, but any time you hear of a company not coming here, or leaving, you kind of kick yourself and you always wonder what could you do better to keep that from happening. [SPEAKER CHANGE] You ended last session of the House and Senate having some disagreement on Medicaid and Medicaid reform, I think even ??? on a proposed special session to continue those discussions. Your interim committee that was looking at the form of what Medicaid reform might look like, basically it says in your report that 'yes, we think there aught to be some.' Have you all had any discussions about what that might look like going forward? How you might bridge some of those differences? And, if at some point you might take on what Governor McCrory has handed out a few times, which is Medicaid extension? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Members continue to discuss reform, I think there's broad agreement that Medicaid reform is something that North Carolina needs to address. The question of specifically what that reform looks like is one that we are, at this point, unable to answer in terms of there being a majority in the House and a majority in the Senate, this is what it'll be. I think we will continue as we move forward to look at that. I think the issue of Medicaid expansion is one that we've answered time and time again, and I don't see that the answer is any different at this point. There is a minor case that can be made that Medicaid expansion is the right thing for us to do in North Carolina. [SPEAKER CHANGE] I continue to be unconvinced that Medicaid expansion is a good idea. We acknowledge that there's some problems with Medicaid, and I think that we need to find a way to come up with a reform program to address some of the spending, address the waste. I don't think just throwing more money at it is the solution. And what happens of course, if there's money that comes in from the federal government now, but that could very easily go away in two years, and the state is stuck picking up the tab at that point. I just don't think that that's a good long term play for us to make.
Governor McCrory announced with Mayor Growley the other day that the Dorthea Dix property is gonna be sold and he announced the terms. What's you all's reaction to the terms that the governor came up with and is there any possibility that we can see any legislation or reaction from the legislature to either revise those terms or kill the deal? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, what I would say is I like the process that has been engaged in in this point. What you've had is the executive branch and the city of Raleigh spend a good bit of time looking at this and my understanding is there's been a pretty good bit of give and take on that. As far as the specifics of the proposed agreement, we're still looking at it and the thing that I have said consistently, and I think an number of members have said consistently, is that what we have is, we have a state asset that we're talking about transferring and it's not, it is a state asset that I think everyone acknowledges has value and we want to make sure that the taxpayers of the state receive fair consideration for a transfer if that takes place and we're looking to see if that's what the governor has come up with. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Back to Medicaid reform, I wonder if you both would address this. Last session obviously there was plenty of discussion, plenty of work on it, but there still is this stalemate between the Senate and the House, how do you break that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] During the interim a couple of committees have met and discussed this and I understand there have been some conversations between the stakeholders. What I sense from folks I've talked to about it is we would like to see the various groups involved whether it's the doctors, the hospitals, the insurance companies, try to work together and collaborate perhaps, maybe a little more than they've done in the past and try to come up with some solutions. There is some common ground in some places and then obviously there are some differences, but it's just going to have to work itself out. But I know we've had two interim committees that have dealt with this issue and it's not easy. I mean, if any of us in the room had the answer to this problem we'd be pretty well off I guess, and it's a complex issue and when you make a change here you affect something here, but I think you're gonna see us work together and collaborate as much as we can between the two chambers to find a solution. What it's gonna look like, I don't think either of us can say at this point. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, let's hope to have an answer. What are your thoughts on, or what will we see this year on possible historic property tax credit and so forth and the privilege licence we were so worried about? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Historic tax credits, again, we talked a little bit about that as far as tax reform. A decision was made in the context of tax reform in terms of what we were going to do there. I think there are some folks who would like to revisit that decision. We'll see as we go forward whether or not that's something that had support. With reference to privilege licence taxes, that's something that I know the governor has been involved in communicating with the municipalities about some of the issues there, but we quite frankly are interested in what the governor's proposal will be to address that and we'll see whether or not there is that support. Remember, one of the reasons that the change took place as far as privilege licenses, there were some entities that were really creating tax schemes that were very uneven and were creating some real impediments for the business community and for our ability to be a place that is receptive to business involvement, so they, those concerns exist. Those concerns were one of the reasons that the tax went away. Let's see what the governor proposes and we'll see where we go from there. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright, [??] from Senator [??] what is your [??] idea of what flat rate state wide city and county [??] to the local governments. What do you think of that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I think there are probably a lot of ideas out there about what we ought to do. Some folks probably think we ought to just leave it like it is and not have the authority for privilege licenses. Some folks think that we can reinstitute something. Let's let the session move forward and see what kinds of proposals are out there. I don't know as I stand here what kind of solution has the support of the majority of members in my body much less both bodies. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The, with
Back to the historic property. There's talk about a grant program. I know some folks are talking about that as opposed to getting away from it being a tax credit issue. So there may be some discussions about that. The Privilege License Tax that's, I'm interested to see what the Governor's proposal is because we, we really did need to deal with some abuses that have occurred across the state and I won't recount all of that, but the case was very compelling where people who were being taxed who really did not have any reasonable forseeability of having to pay taxes to a municipality so that's one of those where it kind of got out of hand. Whether we take a look at it or not, I don't know. I agree with Senator Berger, it'll just depend upon the session and where the interest is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes, ma'am. Oh I'm sorry. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Berger, do you plan to change your approach to teacher pay and offer better and some more substantial raises this year in light of the fact that teachers received such small raises last year. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have. We passed last session one of the largest pay raises for teachers that's we've seen in North Carolina. We did that in the context of changing the pay structure and collapsing some of the steps. I think we've made a commitment, and it is one of the things that I know the Senate is intending to do. I think the House is and the Governor as well to get the beginning pay up to $35,000. We'll take a look at ways that we can reward our best teachers for providing real value in terms of improvement of student performance in the classroom, and I think that's going to be the focus of what we'd like to see in connection with addressing teacher pay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The whole idea of public education is not just a political issue for me, I have two sons who are in the public schools, and so it is very personal. I'm personally invested in this, frankly moreso than politically invested, if you will. I'm proud of the pay raises we passed this year, and we did the pay raises that did benefit newer teachers more than more seasoned teachers because that's where the folks at DPI told us they needed to focus because that's where the high turnover was. That's where the real disparity was, and we needed to make sure that we took care of that. I would like to see us do more for veteran teachers, absolutely would. Believe me I've got a lot of relatives who are teachers, and I hear about it all the time. And because - I value the job that they do, and I want to see us do it. I'm proud of what we did last year. I think it was a huge step in the right direction, and I guess the biggest pay raise for teachers in what, 10 years? So I think that is a great record we can be proud to have on education. Yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Following up on that, there's some agencies that says there's a talent retention issue state crime lab, ???. What about raises for other departments, or all state employees. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That that really has - the crime lab issue is something that I've dealt with both in my law practice and we hear about a lot. The high turnover where, of course, a private lab can come in and hire these lab analysts away and pay them much more money and that adds to the backlog. We're gonna have to deal with it. We're gonna have to find some way to deal with it in terms of staffing whether it is pay raises and other things that the AOC has come to us and the other agencies, and I believe that on our side we will want to try to find a way to do that. As far as other state employees, of course, all state employees got a raise this year, and depending on the economic circumstances, we'd always like to do that, but it is a little premature to know what we can do and how far we can go until we know exactly how much money we have. Yes, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Since the last session there have been at least three constitutional challenges to the way certain committees are appointed: Coal Ash Management, ??? Review, and Mining & Energy, wondering if there's going to be a legislative response to that? There was a legal response to it, and how you think those lawsuits are going to unfold, or if there is someway to work that out with as far as legislatively? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Ya know in my professional life I try to predict for clients how a case is going to turn out and sometimes I'm right and sometimes I'm wrong so we feel very confident that the position that has been taken by the legislature, both recently and long term, is entirely consistent with what we are doing and with what we intend to continue to do with reference to boards and commissions. We feel like the courts will vindicate that position. Feel like the precedent is that the courts have previously vindicated that position. I don't know that...
That there will be any specific legislative response other than I don't anticipate us making any changes in how we deal with those issues. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And I agree completely with Senator Berger on that. I think our legal position is very strong. Again, I try to predict that also and it is the precedent for years and years is that the General Assembly has the right to name appointments to various commissions and boards. It's not overstepping the legislative authority in doing so and I don't predict either a legislative response to the lawsuit or to the challenge, but I don't see any change to what we're doing. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And remember there's another good reason for us to have the ability to make those kinds of appointments, and that is there are some commissions that need to have some independence from both the legislative branch and the executive branch and that independence is actually bolstered by the ability of both the General Assembly and the executive branch to appoint members to certain committees. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sitting here I get the feeling could be in 2011 or 2013 seems like a lot of the same issues are gonna be on the table. What's gonna be different about this session other than Speaker Morris here instead of Speaker Tuft. Is there gonna be less focus on social issues, more focus on something else? What are some issues that are gonna come up that haven't? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We, if you look back at the list of social issues, for example, that we came in in 2011 we wanted to deal with, we've addressed most of those and so they're done and so we, I think we're at a position now where we can focus on governing, actually moving forward with managing the affairs of state. Working on our budget, trying to improve efficiencies. I mentioned an initiative today that I talked about in my acceptance speech about trying to engage in some more public/private partnership on the after school issue with agencies that already exist, something that wouldn't cost much money, and those are things I think we ought to look at doing. Making sure we're being responsive to folks back home, but above all, on top of all of that is doing whatever we can to bring more jobs to this state, and I think, I'm committed to see us focus on economic development, job retention and job growth. That to me is, those are the top three issues if you will. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You know, former Senator Runstetter used to, when we were in the minority and then again when we were in the majority, used to remind our members about either the failure of state government to do what he called the basic blocking and tackling of government and the need for us to do that. There are a number of recurring issues that are just always gonna be there. Education is one of them, and so that's something that we're gonna talk about. Regulatory environment is another. We're gonna be talking about that. So a lot of these issues recur and a lot of these issues are things that, that unfortunately, you know, may not be so sexy but it's something that needs to be done. I think one of the things that we want to do is to make sure that the message is out there that we want to build on what we've done over the past four years and build on it in a way that we capitalize on the fact that our unemployment rate has been cut almost in half. We capitalize on the fact that there are almost 260 plus thousand people in North Carolina working now that were not working four years ago. That we capitalize on the, on the fact that our education reforms are beginning to show great promise, particularly Read to Achieve and some of the initiatives that have taken place that hopefully will improve the outcomes for the kids as we go forward, so while I'd like to be able to stand up here and tell you that there's this great new initiative out there and we've got all kinds of money to pay for it, that's just not where we are. I don't know it's where we're gonna be. I know the governor is talking about infrastructure. I think that's one of the things we've not, other than the Transportation Reform Measure, we've not addressed in a way that I think a lot of folks would like to see us address. I think capital may be a new thing that folks start talking about a little more, but what we'll do there and what that will look like remains to be seen. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Are you holding up two fingers because you've got two questions? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, I've got two, but I'll just ask the one, but it's for both of you. I'm curious what you think about Senator Brown's idea that the legislature take a look at how sales tax is distributed in the state and perhaps change that so it benefits our rural communities some more? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's, when you talk about tax reform, that's one of several dozen issues that crops up, and, you know, politicians in both parties have talked for a number of
about how North Carolina's changing as a state, and one of the ways it's changing is that we are seeing a state that has pockets of fairly substantial growth and prosperity and you have pockets that are struggling. One of the lines that you mark there, in some respects, is the difference between some of the urban, suburban, and rural areas of the sate. One of the things that you see in that context is the sales tax distribution. So I think it's something that's worth looking at, whether or not there's support to make any kind of change or substantial change there remains to be seen but it is something that more and more people are talking about. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I know your wife- [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yeah, we've got a 3:00 ??, or else I'm in big trouble. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator, there's been talk in Greensboro about possibly changing the makeup of the city council straight from the board, changing how people are elected, is that something you would support and if so, what would it look like? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You know, Senator Wade has taken the lead on that issue and I am hearing some of the same concerns that she's been hearing, that have led her to begin the process of talking about that. I'm interested in what her proposal looks like but I think there are some very good reasons for making some changes and I think she may very well be on the right track. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You were asked earlier about being sued over some of the changes you made, and of course one of the people suing you is the Governor, I think fairly heard some frustration from, particularly your chamber, Senator Berger, over the past couple years with them, but I also heard you did say today that you're looking for him to put forth some proposals, you're looking for him to take point. Can you give me a sense of, after two years of working with this governor, have you figured out that relationship, are you still figuring it out, and when he does bring you those proposals, how much weight are they going to carry over here considering some of the struggles that you've had from time to time, such as him suing you? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I was asked a question similar to this a couple weeks ago and I think all relationships evolve and the governor and I have what I consider to be a good working relationship. I think when he makes a proposal, there are two things, one, you're cognizant of the fact it's the governor that's made the proposal, so it's not the same thing necessarily as you dreaming it up or something of that nature, so it's important to pay attention to. The second thing is the quality of the proposal. If we've got a good proposal from the governor, I think it will meet with a good response, if there's a proposal that needs work then we'll try to work on it. I think we probably have substantial agreement on things that need to be worked on, there are differences, him and I are going to have differences on how to solve certain things. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you want to take a crack at that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I personally like the governor, supported the governor, and we obviously will have some differences. The lawsuit over the Boards and Commissions appointments is one of those, but as I've said before, we work together when we, to advance common initiatives we have in common but then when there's a disagreement, we do so candidly with one another, respectfully, see if we can reach a resolution, and if we can't reach a resolution, I'll advocate for the House position every time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The other thing, Mark, and you've heard me say this before, I think all of you probably have, I think the important thing is when all is said and done, what are we doing to move the state forward? I just don't think you can find, over a two year period, a situation where a governor and a General Assembly have worked together more to advance positive legislation that has made North Carolina a better place. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you all.
I just hadn't paid that much attention to it, Mark. I think that's been mainly an issue of interest here in Raleigh and any other day it's a counsel of state issue unless we file something to intervene. [speaker changes] That's the question that does seem very??? [speaker changes] No one has come to me asking anything, told me that ??? there's no body beating my door down. [speaker changes] ?? saying that some of that ??? [speaker changes] I really don't know. I apologize, if I did, I would tell you. [speaker changes] Following on from the stuff about putting records online, one of the proposals that your boys talked about ?during the interview was medical examiners and getting death certificates computerized but it's going to cost about five million I think was the estimate that they gave from the medical examiners office so there was so talk about money and any thoughts on that? [speaker changes] I haven't heard that cost projection, but we need to do it, and again, as a small town attorney, I handle the state cases for ??? all the time and if you've got a situation where you're needing to get a death certificate or something started because of some pressing legal matters, the delay really is a problem. So we need to find a way to fix it. Now whether it takes five million, that seems to me, I guess in the big scheme of a twenty-one million dollar budget, that's not much money, but I would think it would be a little cheaper than that. I mean, ll you're talking about at some point is some person entering data into a computer a little more quickly, and why it would cost five million dollars, I don't know. I've always thought that some of these cost projections, how much things cost, maybe I'm in the wrong business, maybe I need to be doing whatever it is that making these projections cost so much, it certainly doesn't happen in a small town law practice. [speaker changes] Ready to go? [speaker changes] Ready to go, yeah. Thanks ya'll appreciate it, be seeing you for a few months. [speaker tells various individuals goodbye, chatter]