Guest lecturer Rob Christensen appears to be filling in for John Frank at the Raleigh campus of McClatchy’s School of Creative Writing. Mr. Frank, the school’s dean, must be away on sabbatical trying to get the crayons sharpened.
Rob has the reputation of being Mr. Politics in North Carolina — even though he spent months following John Edwards around and never thought to ask who the blonde with the video camera was. With the release of Gov. Pat’s first budget proposal, all eyes were on Mr. Politics for his take:
Gov. Pat McCrory proposed a hold-the-line budget on Wednesday that offered key clues about his still-fledgling governorship.
It suggested that McCrory is a pragmatic, moderate conservative – not a tea party Republican. The budget colored him an incrementalist with a modest vision of what government can or should accomplish.
Moderate? NOT a Tea Party Republican. Ya think ??? Conservatives, especially those in and around Charlotte, have KNOWN this about their former mayor for YEARS. Let’s see. Tea Party Republicans think it’s a good idea to only spend what you have. *Boy, is that radical, scary, un-pragmatic stuff.* More:
Budgets by and large are political documents, reflecting the goals and priorities of the governor.
A governor’s first budget is particularly important because the governor is at the height of his or her power to push an agenda through the legislature. McCrory will never has as much leverage as he has today. So what did he do with his leverage?
McCrory’s budget offered no sweeping vision of what he wants his governorship to be about. If anything it seems to be a green-eyeshades budget that puts an emphasis on fixing things or making things run more smoothly – it put more than $1 billion in funds designed to repair buildings or update computers and telecommunications equipment, or build up reserves for future emergencies.
“[A]n emphasis on fixing things or making things run more smoothly.” Hmmm. That sounds familiar. Kinda like “managing the welfare state.” Where have I heard about THAT before? More:
It appeared that McCrory tried to perform a political balancing act – something that he also tried to do during his 14 years as a Republican mayor of Democratic-leaning Charlotte.
He swung left when he proposed funding 5,000 more positions for pre-K programs, for fully funding Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, and increased funding for digital learning in the schools. He swung right when he called for de-funding public financing of judicial elections and for state parties, cutting state agencies by an average of 2 percent to 3 percent and abolishing the estate tax for people with more than $5 million, and ending future Golden LEAF funding to create jobs in rural areas.
The reaction to the budget proposal was all over the map and seemed a bit confused. There was both praise and grumbling from both the left and the right.
McCrory might take comfort from President Ronald Reagan, who once quipped: “I couldn’t help thinking that, if the definition of a good budget proposal is to distribute dissatisfaction, ours is a real winner.”
There was no signature program in McCrory’s budget proposal – something that historians in future years would point to as a legacy item.
Consider the first budget proposals of North Carolina’s last two Republican governors.
Jim Holshouser in 1973 proposed the creation of a statewide kindergarten program, a 5 percent pay increase for teachers in the first year and a 10 percent increase in the second year in the biennium, an extension of the teacher work year to 200 days, and the endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Gov. Jim Martin proposed in his 1985 budget the phasing out of the inventory and intangibles tax and the states sales tax on food and nonprescription drugs. He also proposed a 5 percent pay increase for state employees and teachers.
Governors are creatures of their times. Holshouser – although his chief political consultant was Roger Ailes, who now heads the Fox News network – was elected governor during a more liberal era, and his program reflected the times. Martin was elected at the height of the Reagan era, and so tax-cutting was at the top of his agenda.
A more liberal era? Rob. Holshouser won in 1972. The same year Jesse Helms was first elected to the Senate. The same year Nixon was putting a major killing on liberal godfather George McGovern. Rob — do tell us what your Democrat friends in the legislature did to Jim Martin AND his budget proposal.
McCrory was elected governor as North Carolina is coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. While the state is no longer in a fiscal crisis, it is still weak with high unemployment.
Um, NOT TRUE. Neither of those sentences. (Well, maybe the first half of the first sentence AND the last half of the second sentence.) Ol’ Rob hits it on the head with McCrory — he has no ideological core, and is more interested in managing the bureaucracy and keeping his poll numbers high than in conservative reforms. We’re seeing the same kind of thing with Thom Tillis and his team in the House. The Senate — with battlers like Thom Goolsby and Jerry Tillman — is stepping forward as the catalyst for conservative reforms. With both jobs at the top of the NCGOP basically vacant, we’re not getting any leadership there.
If we want to have any hope of experiencing that conservative revolution we heard about at the end of 2012, SOMEBODY has got to step forward and provide some direction for this GOP majority in Raleigh — and some hope for a citizenry battered and frazzled by the excesses of big government.