This week the General Assembly comes together to support a common cause, helping those in need. It is the 22nd annual Legislative Food Drive in partnership with the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks and NC Retail Merchants Association. I am incredibly excited to be a part of this non-partisan effort to help the citizens of North Carolina. I am equally excited that the industry that I am proud to be a part of worked to make a significant contribution to help feed the hungry in our great state. The NC Retail Merchants Association and its retail members, including McDonald’s, donated over $85,000 to the NC Association of Feeding America Food Banks today. I am proud of this legislature for prioritizing the needs of North Carolinians across the state and across party lines.
I am honored to have been selected last week by Senator Berger to join the Pensions and Retirement Committee. I referenced many times during my campaign that the unfunded state retirement benefits are a ticking time bomb that threatens the financial security of not only those state employees to which we have made promises, but also to our children and grandchildren that will be responsible for making the payments on this unfunded debt. Our State’s Treasurer, Dale Folwell reported recently that this debt is now nearly $70 billion. If tough choices are not made soon, the consequences could be catastrophic. My experiences as a business owner and a bank’s director serving on its Compensation and HR Committee are recognized to add value to this committee.
Despite nonstop predictions of doom and gloom, North Carolina continues to see robust economic growth and job creation under legislative Republican leadership. Here are two examples of that from just this week.
First, the North Carolina Department of Commerce released record tourism numbers for last year, in spite of many municipalities trying to kill it. Tourism is an important part of our state’s economy, and in 2016, visitors to North Carolina spent an unprecedented $22.9 billion, an increase of 4.3 percent from 2015.
Second, North Carolina has been ranked number one for its economic competitiveness by Site Selection Magazine for the third year in a row. It wasn’t long ago that our state and its private sector economic engine were burdened with the highest taxes in the southeast and one of the worst tax climates in the nation, but under of the leadership of NC Senate Republicans and NC House Republicans, the number of working North Carolinians has soared to historic highs. Thanks to our nationally-recognized tax cuts and tax reform, North Carolina is open for business and companies are taking note.
These facts make one thing clear: businesses and people flock to North Carolina when commonsense reforms reduce the size of government and allow our state to thrive. I am proud you made me a part of this common sense solution.
The NC Senate passed our budget on its third reading after our session extended into the wee hours of the morning at about 3:30 AM on Friday. It will now move to the House where hopefully it will receive a quick concurrence. After all, there was a great deal of collaboration with the House subcommittee chairs through the development process. This budget was the culmination of an incredible four-month effort by my comrades and me in the Senate, along with a well-educated, well-informed and extremely professional General Assembly staff.
While my first budget is not perfect and there are clearly some items included that I’d rather see changed, it offers a well-balanced, thoughtful approach and targets the policy priorities of the Senate. It controls spending and makes some significant cuts in a few areas where cuts are needed. There are however places future cuts should be made. Following are just a few highlights of our budget. I will be posting more detailed information on my Facebook page over the next few days and in future newsletters.
The Civitas Institute has ranked my voting record at the top in terms of supporting conservative values this year. To see my ranking as well as those of other state legislators, click here.
Founded in 2005, the Civitas Institute is a Raleigh, NC-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit policy organization.
The Civitas Institute fights to remove barriers to freedom so that all North Carolinians can enjoy a better life.