AND AWAY WE GO?

Paul Fogleman,

Within in the next two weeks a new era in government is ushered in North Carolina and the nation. When the N.C. General Assembly convenes, Wednesday, January 11, scores of new senators and representatives will be sworn in with a let-the-party-begin atmosphere. There will be new names among the leadership ranks and an agenda that will include a new governor of a different party. Tension over possible new elections for the Legislature could signal a tumultuous session. Republicans still have an overwhelming veto-proof majority and Gov. Roy Cooper has a bully pulpit with the media.

The bright side of the upcoming session is the economic health of the state. Revenues for the last fiscal year came in $200 million over budget, most of which went to help victims of floods in the east and fires in the west. The state’s savings account or “rainy day fund” is over $1 billion for the first time in history. Even so, North Carolina’s spending on education ranks near the bottom among U.S. States and the GOP has an inter-party lawsuit going on over who controls the agenda for education policies and spending—the Board of Education on the new superintendent.

Gov. Cooper, who was sworm into office minutes after midnight January l, has started putting together a cabinet, naming James Trogden, Secretary of Transportation, and Michael Regan head of the Department of Environmental Quality. Legislators, continuing their determination to set the state’s agenda, approved a bill requiring General Assembly approval of the Governor’s cabinet appointees. Former Gov. Jim Martin has criticized the Legislature’s move.

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