Politics & Government

NC hopes to avoid other states’ job recruiting, marketing problems

When North Carolina moves its job recruiting and marketing functions to a new public-private partnership later this year, it will join just 12 other states with similar structures in place. And with many of those states switching to the partnership model within the past several years and with each of them somewhat different, the economic development strategy remains largely unproven.

“There is no conclusive study or set of studies that can say definitively that a public-private partnership is a more or less effective way of going about economic development than a public agency,” Patrick McHugh of the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division told a legislative committee last week.

The Commerce Department plans to move its job recruiting and marketing functions to the newly formed Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina in the second half of this year.

McHugh told lawmakers at the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee about pitfalls that other public-private economic development agencies across the country have encountered, including conflicts of interest and perceptions of conflicts, a lack of transparency and limited investment from private businesses. Such problems, he said, can undermine the credibility and effectiveness of such partnerships.

Commerce Department officials said they have studied states that have tried similar approaches and that Senate Bill 127, which they are relying on as a blueprint for the new Economic Development Partnership, includes provisions aimed at preventing those problems in North Carolina. Commerce officials hope Senate Bill 127 will pass in this year’s short legislative session, which begins in May, giving them the authority they need to forge ahead.

Teacher pay bump coming

Legislative leaders are planning this week to announce their plan to increase pay for beginning teachers, said state Rep. Tom Murry.

Low teacher pay has been one of the sources of discontent for teachers and a focus of national attention the past seven months. Legislators approved no raises for teachers or state employees this year, and they have received only one 1.2 percent increase in the past five years.

That has led several groups, including an advisory committee Gov. Pat McCrory appointed, to offer recommendations for teacher pay increases.

McCrory and legislators have said in recent months that they want to approve salaries, but have not said how. The plan is to raise pay for beginning teachers in multiple phases, said Murry, a Morrisville Republican.

“A lot of us are interested in attracting those young teachers who want to be teachers and getting those starting salaries competitive,” he said.

Asked whether McCrory agreed with the plan, Murry said, “I think you’ll see a united front.”

The starting salary for teachers is $30,800 a year. The national average starting salary in 2012-13 was $36,141, according to the National Education Association. North Carolina’s beginning teacher salary is lower than surrounding states, and is near the bottom of national averages.

Overall, the average teacher salary in North Carolina of $45,947 ranked 46th in the nation in 2012, according to the NEA.

Burr delivers weekly GOP address

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr delivered the weekly Republican address on Saturday. As the most senior Republican on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, the senator from Winston-Salem focused on the backlog of disability claims veterans still face. But he lamented that the “unprecedented level” of financial support had not been matched by a “surge in responsiveness from the Veterans’ Administration.”

Burr said that only “incremental progress” has been made to reduce the backlog of claims and that nearly 700,000 veterans and their families are “waiting for answers.”

A video of the address is available here: www.youtube.com/gopweeklyaddress.

Headliners set for Meck GOP event

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina will headline the Mecklenburg County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln-Reagan Day next month.

More than 350 people are expected at the March 15 dinner at Carmel Country Club.

Tickets are $75. Sponsorships cost up to $4,000. Party officials plan to use the money to help elect Republicans this year. Jim Morrill

Meck GOP precinct meetings set

Mecklenburg Republicans will try to kickstart their grass-roots efforts Thursday night with countywide precinct meetings.

Registration starts at 5:30 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3115 Providence Road. The party has openings for officials in dozens of the county’s 195 precincts. Jim Morrill