Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper on Tuesday used Central Piedmont Community College as a backdrop to call for more investment in public education – and to take a swipe at Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and GOP lawmakers.
After touring CPCC’s Advanced Technology Center, Cooper, the attorney general, criticized GOP tax cuts that he said have gone to the rich.
“The governor and legislative leaders have given to those at the top while making it harder and more expensive for everybody else,” he told reporters. “We’re talking about priorities. … We’re talking about putting more money into the pockets of the working class.”
Cooper and Durham Democrat Ken Spaulding are expected to run in the March 15 primary for the nomination to oppose McCrory.
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Cooper alluded to legislation signed by the governor that cut income tax rates while expanding the sales tax base.
“Last session they expanded the sales tax while they passed tax giveaways for corporations,” he said. “So now working people are going to have to pay more to get their car fixed. That’s not fair. I’d work on changing some of those things.”
Later N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse sought to question Cooper at his own news conference at the Charlotte History Museum.
“We’re glad Roy Cooper was in Charlotte at the community college to see the positive work Gov. McCrory is doing to close the skills gap and ensure we have the most prepared workforce to compete in the global economy,” Woodhouse said.
But Woodhouse also criticized Cooper over what he called his silence on a so-called “sanctuary cities” bill. Some North Carolina cities – including Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro – have sanctuary city policies that instruct law enforcement and other officials not to ask the immigration status of people or ignore deportation orders in some cases. McCrory signed the bill to outlaw sanctuary cities last month.
“Where does Roy Cooper stand on sanctuary cities?” Woodhouse said. “Where does Ken Spaulding stand on sanctuary cities? We don’t know.”
Cooper, anticipating the question, said he’s worked with local law enforcement agencies.
“They don’t look at a person’s immigration status when they make decisions about arresting people for crimes,” he said. “I’m going to make sure we continue cracking down on crimes regardless of immigration status. … Unfortunately politics has been injected in this.”
Asked if he would have signed the bill, Cooper said “there were other problems with (it).” One provision limits the use of food stamps. The NAACP and the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus had urged McCrory to veto the bill.
Cooper was also scheduled to attend an evening fundraiser for Charlotte Mayor-elect Jennifer Roberts at the Museum of History.