O-Pinion

The governor says we’re rude (but he also says we’re right)

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, left, listens to the National Anthem with NCDOT Chairman Ned Curran, right, during the opening of the final section of the outer belt in Charlotte in June.
North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, left, listens to the National Anthem with NCDOT Chairman Ned Curran, right, during the opening of the final section of the outer belt in Charlotte in June. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Let’s focus on the positive.

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory appeared this morning on WFAE’s Charlotte Talks, where host Mike Collins asked him about bonds, taxes, teacher assistants and other topics.

One question involved the N.C. budget process, which the Observer’s editorial board happened to write about for Monday’s print and online editions. Specifically, we said the governor has the power to stop a long-time legislative practice of sneaking policy items into the budget instead of introducing them in separate bills that would be subject to debate and a vote.

We didn’t like it when Democrats did it in Raleigh, and we don’t like it now that Republicans are doing it with important policies such as jobs programs, Medicaid and sales tax distribution.

The governor agrees.

“It’s wrong,” he told Collins. “I’m calling them out on it.”

He could go one step further. Our suggestion: The governor should tell lawmakers he won’t sign a budget unless it includes a provision banning, beginning next session, any budget item that changes law or written state policy.

Collins asked McCrory about that.

“I essentially agree with that concept,” McCrory said.

The governor did say, correctly, that policy and budgets are sometimes tangled, so such a demand would have to define what kind of policy doesn’t belong in budgets. But, he said: “I basically agree with that editorial, except for the rude and disingenuous remarks the Observer does.”

Well, there’s that. McCrory didn’t specify what was rude, but we’re guessing he didn’t like us noting that as governor, he’s been unable to rein in the conservative Republican legislature. We might have used the words “boy on a runaway horse.”

But let’s be positive, right? We also said this is an opportunity for the governor to show voters his political chops by gathering legislative support for his demand. The Pat McCrory we endorsed for governor – twice, by the way – was a leader who showed in Charlotte he could work across the aisle to get important things done.

He should try to do the same on this budget issue. Demanding action is a political winner, even if conservatives fight him on it. After all, voters want more transparency and efficiency in Raleigh. The governor and editorial board agree.

We’re positive that hasn’t happened a lot lately.

Peter St. Onge

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