Let’s get to work

In my inaugural address, I discussed the spirit of collaboration and shared values that led past generations of North Carolina leaders to put aside their differences in order to build stronger and more prosperous communities across our state.

We were the first state in America to open our doors to publicly supported higher education. We had the foresight to create the Research Triangle Park. And through the efforts and sacrifices of all our citizens, we have built a state where anyone would be glad to raise a family.

Our greatest leaders — both Republicans and Democrats — have recognized the power of a strong and growing middle class. Today, that must be our priority again.

This legislative session, we must work to rebuild our economy, repair our reputation, and expand opportunity for hardworking families across our state.

We can start by removing an unnecessary economic obstacle and repeal House Bill 2. This disastrous law has cost our economy thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars and is continuing to drive businesses away from our state. I know that a bipartisan majority in both the House and Senate are ready to fully repeal HB 2. I will continue to urge legislative leaders to simply let them vote and send the message that North Carolina is welcoming and open for business.

We also need to bring our tax dollars back to North Carolina and use them to create jobs here at home by expanding Medicaid. It’s irresponsible to allow our tax dollars to be spent on health care in other states that have expanded Medicaid when that money could be invested right here at home to create jobs and keep our families healthier. I will continue working on a state-tailored plan that increases access to health care and builds our economy.

Creating good new jobs is only part of the solution. Our students need the skills to compete in today’s workforce. And that means paying our teachers more. North Carolina currently ranks 41st in the nation in teacher pay and too many good teachers are leaving our classrooms for other states. When I was in the legislature, we worked to create a bipartisan plan to raise teacher pay to the national average. We can do it again.

Finally, we have to help thousands of families rebuild after Hurricane Matthew devastated much of our state. Since the storm, we’ve seen countless examples of families across our state coming to the aid of their neighbors in Eastern North Carolina. We will work together to make sure that these communities have the resources and help to rebuild for an even brighter future.

These are just a few of the issues we’ll face this year and I’m certain we will have disagreements and challenges in the weeks and months ahead. But I know we can do this. We didn’t agree on everything when I was in the legislature, but we found consensus to cut taxes for the middle class, expand early childhood education, and raise teacher pay to the national average.

North Carolinians work hard and don’t ask for much. They don’t care if something is a Democratic idea or a Republican idea. They just want an opportunity for a good job in a place they are proud to call home. Let’s get to work, find common ground, and build an economy that really works for everyone.

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