From Rep. Ruth Samuelson, N.C. House, District 104:
Two years ago, when North Carolinians elected a GOP state House majority for the first time in more than a century, I believed it was a clear mandate for us to return this state to its status as a pro-business beacon in the South.
This year it appears North Carolina voters are saying the same thing – only louder.
Not only did they elect a Republican governor for the first time in 20 years, they picked a Republican lieutenant governor and increased our majorities in both the state House and Senate.
Over the past two years the legislature has put this state on more sound financial footing, having patched a $3 billion budget shortfall while holding the line on taxes.
Now, with a largely united pro-business state government, we can begin to really make the changes that North Carolinians want.
There are challenges to be sure: Our state government coffers are still diminished due to the weak economy. We also have a president in the White House who the majority of N.C. voters did not support, and that could complicate our dealings with the federal government.
Over the next two years, however, I believe we can make significant progress in three areas:
• Tax reform. Only four other states have higher rates of unemployment than North Carolina. Clearly, we are lagging in our economic recovery, and I believe it’s no coincidence that we have the second highest tax burden in the South. We must find ways to rebalance our tax system so that it includes fewer disincentives for growth.
• Regulatory reform. Though more difficult to quantify than taxes, there is ample anecdotal evidence that employers are finding it too hard to operate in our state’s regulatory climate. Especially with Pat McCrory as governor, we have a real chance to streamline government and create a bureaucracy that is less hostile to business.
• Education modernization. We know there are job openings that go unfilled because employers can’t find workers with the proper training for them. We must create an education system that prepares students for the workforce of the future.
Making real changes in any of these areas represents a monumental political challenge.
Our ability to achieve success will depend on our leaders’ ability to help all sides understand that reform is not optional, and will in fact lead to greater opportunity for everyone.
North Carolina voters have already told us twice that this is what they want. I don’t believe they will have to tell us a third time.
For the Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer’s, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.
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