Health and Human Services
As Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee on Health and Human Services, I have fought in the General Assembly for the health and well-being of our citizens. Our resourceful budgeting has allowed the General Assembly to address opportunities for further economic expansion and critical infrastructure needs that fall under the Department of Health and Human Services. I have made great strides in improving our state’s mental health services by directing $18 million from the sale of the Dorothea Dix Hospital property to construct or convert existing, rural hospital beds into licensed, short term, inpatient, behavioral health beds. $2 million from the sale of this property will also fund pediatric mental health crisis centers. There has been an additional $20 million allocated for the state’s mental health services aimed at improving the livelihoods of those struggling with mental illness and substance abuse. For example, I have provided vouchers for respite services to help families acting as caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients, and won the argument to provide more money for Pre-K in most counties, as well as Child Advocacy Centers. Also local social services departments and the efficiency of foster care facilities were improved with staff training and technical assistance capabilities in both. We must invest in furthering our efforts in this arena. We cannot go backward to the days of housing patients, or a hackneyed approach to health care. We can do better. Health and Human Services is the building block for a healthier North Carolina and I have worked hard to enhance our state’s overall health.
Jobs and the Economy
The State and Wake County’s economy has been flourishing again unlike previous times where unemployment across the state was 4th worst in the country. In response to a lot of hard work by Republicans, we reduced Unemployment from 11.4% in 2010 when we were ranked among the worst states to only 4.9% in June 2016. (It is even better in Wake County). According to Site Magazine we have created more than 300,000 net jobs since 2011. The Carolina Journal puts the total since “mid 2013” at 252,000. During this period which is my time in office our decreased taxes, job growth and regulatory reform have allowed North Carolina to, in the last three years, become the fastest growing economy (according to GDP) in the nation. We rank highly in almost every publication which discusses the state of states. Often times we are in one of the top 3 spots. Even CNBC (sister affiliate to MSNBC) ranked us 5th best in the country for business. The Journal offers some other important points on our economy. “Other standard measures confirm our relatively brisk pace of growth. Since mid-2013, North Carolina’s GDP has grown at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of 3.2 percent, higher than the national (2.5 percent) and regional (2.4 percent) averages. Using the same starting point, per-person incomes rose 3.6 percent in North Carolina, 3.4 percent in the nation, and 3.3 percent in the Southeast.” And that was in April. With the idea of growth, fairness and equity in mind I sponsored a bill that would lead to renewing support for small and medium manufacturers and recyclers that a previous administration withdrew in the last decade. We passed it after 2 years of effort in the House. It took off as a concept and was enhanced and added to the Budget in 2016. It will certainly open up job opportunities across the State including Eastern Wake County. My voting record indicates my commitment to jobs in Wake County and the Tarheel state. As a state, a county, and as your representatives we have added jobs, increased the standard of living and kept our pledge to help our friends, neighbors and constituents. North Carolina is indeed a success story and you are part of it.
As a former member of the Wake County Board of Education, I was the school board representative who successfully fought for your child’s ability to attend the school you wanted them too and not be uprooted from their community. As your State Representative I have fought for more Education Funding. If one would look at the six budgets since 2011 Republicans have led the way with 6 successive budget increases in Education spending.
We provided teachers an average 7.2 percent pay raise, average salaries are now exceeding $50,000 with supplemental pay, and re-instituted a Step Program which our opponents had taken from them in the past. Also, I have publicly argued and voted for more money for books.
Now some say that if we increased spending by population and inflation our numbers would be far greater. My response to this theoretical rhetoric is that as a Representative of the people I am tasked with dealing with reality. The very certain reality that you can only spend what you collect in taxes. Interestingly in 2014 the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities did a study that showed 75% of all states, red and blue alike, were still digging themselves out of the recession and hadn’t reached the 2008 revenue numbers our opponents like to mention all the time. We surpassed 2008 spending in 2015 with amongst other things the largest teacher pay in the country and followed it up with more spending (giving teachers another well-deserved additional bump in salary) in 2016.
Now I will be far fairer to Democrats than they will ever be to us. They didn’t create the recession but they were in charge and had to make tough choices. They cut education by 1.3 plus billion. Those cuts are their responsibility, not ours. They cut text books by 99.9% and now complain we are only most of the way out of the pit they left us. They proclaim themselves the true teachers’ friend. Let’s talk about that. They ended the $1500 bonuses teachers got for EOG scores in their classes. They froze teachers’ pay. They call it the Step Program that benchmarks their pay increases for as long as they were employed. It took Republicans to undo that freeze and reform the Step Program so that it only took 25 years (instead of 32) to get to the 50k mark. They even furloughed teachers, sending them home unpaid. They chose an awful 36 million dollars cut from the budget to do that while spending 25 million on a pier! They chose a piece of wood over teachers’ lively-hood. I bet they could have found another 10 million from somewhere else, but even if wrong that’s still near 2/3 of furloughed teachers still teaching our kids. Look again at the graph folks. Even if we are simply going to chalk those recession cuts to bad but well intentioned choices we have to admit one thing. From the outset Republicans have shown a commitment to Education the other side does not want to make allowances for, let alone respect. You can see those 6 successive budget increases in six years and see the truth. Republicans are dedicated to education. We want the best for your kids and our collective future. My personal promise to you is that I will make certain that in every decision I put the welfare of teachers and your kids needs front and center.
During my time in the General Assembly I have consistently fought on behalf of the taxpayers by keeping taxes low. The people of North Carolina are benefiting from a reformed tax code thanks to the work of the 2013 General Assembly that lowered taxes, stimulated business growth, and tremendous job creation. Expanding job and entrepreneurial opportunities for you is the engine that creates a higher standard of living for you and your families. That’s the goal. As your state representative, I will continue to keep our taxes as low as possible to create further prosperity and opportunity for businesses and individual citizens.
Right to Life
I support the protection of life from the moment of conception to natural death. I support banning abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother and I believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned. I believe state government should help facilitate a culture which values life and encourages alternatives to abortion such as adoption. I oppose euthanasia in all forms and believe in the dignity of all lives at all ages.
Second Amendment Rights
I am a gun enthusiast, a member of the National Rifle Association and a strong supporter of our Second Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms. As your State Representative, I will continue to stand firm for your right to own and use firearms for self-defense, hunting, target shooting or any other lawful purpose. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible and conscientious with their firearms and should not be penalized for the actions of a few. The Second Amendment is America’s First Freedom and I will work hard to protect it from those who would see it taken away.