I am working on the template of this blog today in order to chase down some problems that have developed with my template and widgets.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Video and Transcript of the 2023 State of the State Address by Governor Cooper and the Republican Response by Lt Governor Robinson

Last night, the Governor gave his annual State of the State Address for North Carolina and the Lt Governor gave his response. Video and transcripts of both speechs are posted below without any interpretation or political agenda.


Macon Media is being underwritten today by Nature Tamers of North Carolina.

Grading • View Cutting
Water Abatement • Foundations
Plumbing • Construction Repair

Call 828-507-2735

Governor Cooper Delivers 2023 State of the State Address

The prepared remarks of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper for the State of the State address on Monday night, as provided by the Governor's Office:

Mr. President Pro Tempore, Mr. Speaker, Lieutenant Governor, Members of the General Assembly, Council of State, Mr. Chief Justice and members of the Supreme Court, Madame Chief Judge and members of the Court of Appeals, Cabinet Secretaries and my fellow North Carolinians: I am honored to join you to report on the state of our great state.

With me tonight, is my remarkable wife, our First Lady, Kristin, our three wonderful daughters, Hilary, Natalie and Claire and my son-in-law Zack and my brother Pell, all of whom I’m thankful for each and every day.

Each generation has but so many chances to leave an indelible mark on history that benefits the generations to come. And so often, our greatest advancements come after our greatest upheavals. War, protests, strife, disasters, pandemic. To find ourselves as state leaders at a time like this, is to bear a tremendous responsibility. A responsibility to learn from adversity and make things better. A responsibility that reaches far into our future.

Two-hundred and thirty-four years ago, legislative leaders following the directive in our first constitution cited “the indispensable duty …to consult the happiness of a rising generation” and chartered the first public university in the nation. Today, the positive effects of North Carolina’s great public university system reach around the globe.

Sixty years ago, a forward-looking group of North Carolinians had the vision to see a place for research and development. They recognized an urgent need to diversify our state’s economic anchors. And they worked collaboratively to do something about it. Today, we know their work as the Research Triangle Park.

Thirty-nine years ago, spotting yet another shift in industry, our leaders gathered strength from our word-class universities, medical schools and researchers to launch the North Carolina Biotechnology Center which has helped to spark a surging life sciences sector in our economy.

Time and again, overcoming adversity, our leaders had the foresight and the resolve to invest in new ideas that have revolutionized our state, impacting the generations that followed.

And while we stand on their shoulders, we also stand at an altogether new crossroads. One that demands we have the same clarity of purpose, the same innovation, the same determination that brought us here. Our moment to build enduring prosperity is now. And I know that North Carolina is ready.

As we sit here tonight, North Carolina is cementing its place as a leader in the global clean energy economy – no longer the industry of the future, but the flourishing business of today. North Carolina is a clean energy destination, bringing good paying manufacturing jobs to parts of our state that years ago knew more factory closures than ribbon cuttings.

Consider electric vehicles, now projected to grow into a $400 billion global market in just five years. And it’s cranking up right here. From the battery manufacturing in Randolph County to the semiconductor production and the electric vehicle manufacturing in Chatham County, to the charging station production in Durham County. North Carolina has a claim to every link and every job in this fast-growing, lucrative supply chain.

The private sector electric vehicle market is about to take the world by storm and North Carolina is riding the first wave. And that means more money in the pockets of North Carolinians even as we do our part to fight climate change.

Through bipartisan cooperation here in the General Assembly, we became just the second state in the Southeast to put carbon reduction requirements into law. And through my executive orders, we’ve brought people together to plot our course to a net-zero carbon future, to cleaner transportation, and toward more renewable energy like wind and solar power. With challenges like jobs and climate change, you can only make progress when you set ambitious goals. And we’re taking action to reach those goals, because progress is never passive.

And it’s not just clean energy that’s thriving in our state. Technology, aerospace, biotechnology advanced manufacturing, and many more industries are building for growth in North Carolina. In 2022, we broke records yet again, with tens of thousands of new jobs last year alone. From the cities of Charlotte and Greensboro to the counties of Halifax and Scotland, in urban and rural areas far and wide, North Carolina continues to be the best place for people to live, learn, work and raise a family.

And we’ve made sure that’s no secret. In 2022, North Carolina was named THE number one state in the country for business.

You legislators deserve some credit for that. My administration deserves some credit for that. Our business community deserves some credit for that. But we all know who deserves the bulk of the credit: those who make up our amazing workforce – the determined, dedicated and diverse people of North Carolina. Yep, our talented, educated workers are the foundation of our economic success. And we’ve succeeded in expanding that workforce to be more diverse and more inclusive. Like with veterans who served our great country, people with disabilities, formerly incarcerated people who’ve paid their debt to society. All are becoming integral parts of our workforce because we are being intentional about making it happen.

And as our growth accelerates, we must not forget that once-in-a-generation opportunities require once-in-a-generation investments. Because these new jobs require more skill, the education pipeline from early childhood all the way through community college and universities is more important than ever.

A great workforce requires real investment from cradle to career. And it starts with early childhood education at quality child care centers. With federal resources initiated by the Biden Administration, we have invested more than $800 million to stabilize child care, helping centers with great teachers stay open, and helping North Carolina parents get back to work. It’s a triple play, guys: education for the child, a job earning money for the parent, and a badly needed employee for the business. We need to fill them with high quality staff and keep those child care centers open.

One child care leader is with us tonight. Rhonda Rivers is the Regional Director of Curriculum and Training for LeafSpring Schools in Charlotte. Her centers used our child care grants to give bonuses to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. Rhonda has said that these grants helped her keep good teachers who might have been forced to go elsewhere even though they love their jobs. For all they do for children, parents and businesses, let’s give Rhonda and her colleagues a hand for their amazing work.

We know that a great workforce also relies on public schools. Educating the next generation of workers who will fill the jobs that we haven’t even yet imagined is how we stay an economic powerhouse. And we know that a sound, basic education, as required by our state constitution, calls for qualified teachers in every classroom, skilled principals in every school, excellent counselors, and the funding to support every student from every walk of life.

Now, I know many of you on the Republican side of the aisle don’t believe the N.C. Supreme Court should be able to order you to invest more in our children’s education to comply with the constitution. But the Court should uphold decades of bipartisan Supreme Court precedent that comes down on the side of the children, because that’s what really matters – the children.

The education investments ordered by the Court are the right thing to do not only for our children, but our parents, our workforce and our businesses. We have the money this year and next to fund the plan. And if we’re smart about our tax policy, we can fund it into the future. The budget I will present to you invests in the entire education plan ordered by the court. It gives teachers and principals double digit raises, it keeps the buses running, it helps kids with special needs, it keeps schools safe, it does not raise taxes and it balances the budget.

Supporting students also means more mental health care. The youth mental health crisis cannot be ignored.

Just ask Meredith Draughn who’s here with us tonight. Meredith experiences this crisis up close. As a school counselor at B. Everett Jordan Elementary School in Alamance County, Meredith sees firsthand the increasing number of children dealing with stress and anxiety. Her support is critical to their well-being and can be life-saving. All our counselors, teachers and school staff play a vital role in student mental health. And we are so proud that Meredith was named the 2023 National School Counselor of the Year. Let’s give Meredith a hand.

With federal funds, I’ve already directed tens of millions of dollars to this critically important effort, including mental health first aid that helps teachers and school staff recognize the signs of a child in crisis. And in the coming days, I’ll propose a plan that makes historic investments in the whole-person health of every North Carolinian. It will save lives, save government resources and pay dividends for decades to come.

The education pipeline continues with our community colleges and universities that are central to the educated workforce of the future. In every corner of our state, community colleges are coordinating directly with local industry and workforce development boards. They’re creating hands-on training programs that help their graduates cross the stage with a degree or credential AND a job offer in hand. I’ve worked with you legislators in a bipartisan way to make sure people can get this training through Longleaf Commitment grants, Finish Line grants and other community college funding. Let’s keep at it.

We have the very best array of public and private universities, including more four-year HBCUs than any state in the country. In order for our public universities to stay great, our leaders on the University Board of Governors and Trustees must reflect the broad demographic and political diversity in our state. That’s why I created the bipartisan Commission on the Future of Public Universities to propose changes to the way our university leadership is selected to better reflect who we are. I ask you to carefully consider their report.

We must maintain a world-class education system, keep our amazing state employee workforce, build infrastructure, make sure people are healthy and make other investments to keep our state thriving. That requires a smart tax policy. Now, before the finger pointing starts, l want to be clear - we do not need to raise taxes.

But even the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce has said that our current corporate tax rates are already competitive. The jobs are coming fast and furious to North Carolina now and more tax cuts for those at the top will stunt our growth when we should be investing in our workforce. We don’t need more tax breaks for corporations and the wealthiest North Carolinians.

In addition to education, we’re tackling the challenge of our robust growth with more critical infrastructure like roads, bridges, ports and rail. And thanks to the generational investments of the American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law we’re investing more than $2 billion to do what once seemed a faraway dream. We’re going to ensure that every home in North Carolina has access to high-speed internet.

And our Office of Digital Equity and Literacy – the first in the nation – is working to ensure that everyone can get online with affordable devices and good training.

Getting more people online means healthier communities. That’s something Phyllis Pillmon knows well. Phyllis lives in Ahoskie, and she’s here tonight with Kim Schwartz, the CEO of Roanoke Chowan Community Health Center, to highlight the remarkable ways that telemedicine can benefit our state. Phyllis has a hybrid plan of care where she sees her regular doctor in person while connecting with specialists as far away as Charlotte. That’s a 280-mile gap that Phyllis and her specialist can span in just seconds. Phyllis, we’re glad you’re online and Kim, we’re glad your center provides this valuable service for people in Eastern North Carolina! Let’s give them a hand.

We’re also using federal funds to make historic investments in clean water. Across the country, we’ve seen the consequences of neglected water systems, particularly in our rural communities. Without reliable clean drinking water, families struggle, new business won’t come to town, and communities can wither.

Travelling the state, I’ve heard stories from families who can’t wash their clothes regularly because the water’s brown, about pipes that freeze and break when it’s cold, about frequent boil alerts because the water may not be safe. Now those stories will change.

In a normal year, our state invests around $200 million in clean water infrastructure. But with this new federal funding, we’re investing more than $2.3 billion over two years to rebuild hundreds of water systems in nearly every county in our state.

The town of Ivanhoe in Sampson County got one of those grants because Russell Devane, who’s here tonight, worked with other members of his community and with local and state government to highlight the problem resulting in $13.2 million to bring clean water to his town. Let’s give Russell and all the community leaders who are working to make life better for their residents a big hand.

Tonight, I’ve stressed how we are at a pivotal moment with unprecedented opportunities to benefit the generations to come. We are seizing that moment by expanding Medicaid. I’m grateful for our unified Democratic legislators and some Republicans who have been relentless for years in this effort to expand Medicaid. I commend the Republican leadership of this legislature for now embracing this and coming together in agreement. I also deeply appreciate the many health care professionals and advocates from all walks of life who have worked tirelessly to get this done. When we get Medicaid expansion across the finish line, it will save lives.

Tonight, I bring a message of urgency that I hope all of you will keep at heart. Every month we wait to expand not only costs lives but costs our state more than $521 million a month in federal health care dollars. And if we don’t expand soon, we will forfeit an additional $1.8 billion in Health Care Access and Stabilization or HASP funds that our hospitals will never get back, and that would be particularly hard on our rural hospitals. No business would make that kind of financial decision. Finally, we all now agree on Medicaid expansion, we all now agree on how to do it and we all now agree on what other health care laws will be changed with it. For mental health. For working families. For rural hospitals. For a healthier North Carolina. For $1.8 billion we can’t afford to leave behind. Let’s expand Medicaid now.

Another group that has frequently called for Medicaid expansion is our law enforcement officers. They witness every day the consequences of people who need mental health care instead of handcuffs. As one sheriff told me, jails are our biggest mental health facilities. That’s a problem we need to solve.

We need law enforcement focused on protecting our communities. And there’s more we can do to reduce crime and keep communities safe while making sure our criminal justice system operates fairly and without prejudice. My Task Force on Racial Equity in Criminal Justice has offered smart solutions, like a duty for officers to intervene. And I was glad that the legislature took action on that recommendation to pass a bipartisan bill that I signed. Let’s continue that important work as there is more to do. And let’s invest the resources to recruit and retain more good law enforcement officers and support them with the better pay and training they deserve.

Let’s take affirmative steps to make life safer for these brave law enforcement officers and everyday people by keeping guns away from children, criminals and those who are a danger to themselves or others. This is especially true now that death by gunfire has surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of injury deaths for children. A recent report found that in 2021, children in N.C. were 51% more likely to die from gun violence than children in the U.S. as a whole. If you support the responsible gun ownership that we are granted under the Second Amendment as I do, then we cannot accept this. In the weeks to come, let’s move forward to fight gun violence, not backward.

At the outset of my time as governor, I set a clear goal. I wanted North Carolinians to be healthier, better educated, with more money in their pockets and to have lives of purpose and abundance. And though we still have hard work ahead – for working families, hurricane survivors, and those who feel forgotten and left behind – I’m encouraged by the progress we’ve made as a state. Progress that’s been possible because we’ve agreed on economic development strategies and worked to create a good business environment with the best employees in the world. Avoiding the worst of the culture wars these past six years has also been good for business. We worked together in a bipartisan way to fully repeal the horrible bathroom bill the first year I took office. And as we look to the future, I challenge this General Assembly to keep us off the front lines of those culture wars that hurt people and cost us jobs so we can continue our successful bipartisan work.

Use public schools to build a brighter future, not to bully and marginalize LGBTQ students. Don’t make teachers re-write history. Keep the freedom to vote in reach for every eligible voter. Leave the decisions about reproductive health care to women and their doctors.

We must not go backward when so much promise lies ahead. In my six years as governor, you legislators and I have found plenty to disagree about. But we have found areas of common ground to strengthen our communities, create opportunity, and make our state more resilient and prepared for the future.

Many of us here have a deep faith in God. We share common aspirations. We want safe communities, good jobs and an affordable quality of life. We want to give our children more and better opportunities than we had.

This has always been North Carolina’s story: good people from diverse communities coming together to build a common future. I know that fierce debate will continue, but I appreciate that regardless of perspective, the men and women who serve in this body share a love of our state and a respect for the responsibility that comes with public service. We must commit wherever possible to pursue together our shared ambitions for our great state.

The leaders who steered us through the crossroads of the last century kept front and center the promise of the future. Building on their foresight, North Carolina’s growth and success have eclipsed anything that seemed possible. Now, it’s on us to lay the foundation for North Carolina’s next transformation that promises progress and growth for the generations ahead.

Today, I stand before you to report that the state of our state is bright and energized with the promise of tomorrow.

As we envision tomorrow and all the days that follow, let’s work toward a North Carolina where the doors of opportunity are wide open, bursting with possibility for everyone. A North Carolina where hope abounds. A North Carolina where strong growth is made possible by the investments we make today – in our classrooms, in our economy, in our communities, and in our people.

Thank you and may God bless North Carolina and the United States of America.

Ly Governor Robinson Delivers the Republican Response

[note] Text extracted from the video. No official source of transcipt was available at press time. --Bobby Hello, I'm your Lieutenant governor, Mark Robinson, and it's my honor to address you tonight.

I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC as the 9th of 10 children, our home was filled with alcoholism and violence. My father routinely abused my mother. When I was in the 5th grade, my father died and I was terrified. He'd been the sole provider for our family. I thought we were going to be homeless. I wasn't sure that my mom would be able to provide for the five of us that were still living at home.

A few days after my father died, a friend of my mother came by and told her, well now you can kick up your feet and relax because you can get welfare and be taken care of by the state. But my mom decided to take a different path. She walked across the street from my home and got a job as a custodian at the local university. There, she cleaned up for other people's children to provide for her own. Remember the first paycheck she got? She picked up McDonald's for dinner. You would have thought we were eating a 5 star meal. That was the best food I've ever had. I was so proud of my mom. She was my hero. She encouraged me to dream and told me that with faith, hard work and perseverance I could achieve anything.

My mom passed away in 2016. I know she would be proud to see her son serving as the first black Lieutenant governor of North Carolina. The journey to where I am today was long and difficult. Like so many other North Carolinians, I faced my share of adversity. I lost not one, but two jobs to NAFTA. I've laid awake at night wondering how I was going to pay my bills. I lost my house, my car, and decades ago was forced to declare bankruptcy. But like my mother taught me, I leaned on my faith, continued to work hard, and persevered.

Now I've been married to my wife for over 30 years. We have two wonderful children and two incredible grandchildren. I've served in the military, worked in manufacturing, been a general manager at a restaurant, and owned a small business with my wife. You see, I'm not a politician who talks about the issues facing our state as someone who doesn't understand them. In fact, I don't consider myself a politician at all. What I am is a public servant. Who knows what the people of North Carolina are going through and wants to serve them and will fight for them?

And like my own personal journey, our state has experienced both hardship and victory. Since Republicans were elected to the majority in the General Assembly. They have implemented common sense economic policies to ensure that you can keep more of your hard earned money. And they've been good stewards of your money. Like your family, they've had to set a budget and stick to it. That fiscal responsibility resulted in historic economic growth.

The Republican led General Assembly turned a state that was billions of dollars in debt and struggling financially into an economic powerhouse. North Carolina is the number one state in the nation to do business. But while we've seen tremendous growth across the state, many families are still struggling.

If the Democrats have their way, they'll pull us back into an era of government overreach, high taxes and attacks on our personal freedoms. During the pandemic, we saw just how far they would go to control your lives. They shut down your businesses, they kept your children out of school, and they told you you couldn't go to church.

The Biden administration's tax and spend philosophy is hurting North Carolinians at every turn. Prices of essentials like gas and groceries are skyrocketing, and we're still facing shortages of everyday goods like baby formula.

Here in North Carolina, Democrats will follow the lead of President Biden and their counterparts in Congress and go on a spending spree with your money.

We can't afford that.

We have the opportunity to provide relief to our fellow citizens by further cutting personal income taxes for all hard working North Carolinians. We can do this thanks to the fiscal responsibility of our Republican-led legislature that has transformed deficits into surpluses.

One way to continue growing our economy is supporting quality education. I'm passionate about making sure that N Carolinians maximize their potential and can follow their dreams. Teachers have one of the most important jobs in our society. We must hold them to professional standards and we must pay them as the professionals they are. We need to quit asking teachers to be police officers, social workers and parents. Their job is to teach, plain and simple.

And what should they be teaching our students?

They should be teaching our students how to think, not what to think, ensuring that personal or political ideologies stay out of the classroom.

And then we get back to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. It's a parent's responsibility to teach their children about right and wrong. It's a teachers responsibility to impart knowledge to them. Over the last few years, it's been harder than ever for our teachers to do that. COVID lockdown significantly impacted our children's learning, and data now shows that kids can't read on the grade level.

That's unacceptable.

I'll tell you something else that's unacceptable. The violence in our schools after 911 airport and airline security was fundamentally transformed. In the wake of the many tragedies that we've seen on school campuses, not nearly enough has been done to expand security at our schools. The safety of our students shouldn't be a Republican or Democrat issue. It's about protecting our sons and daughters. As you can tell, I'm very passionate about education. It's the reason that I ran for Lieutenant governor. During my first few months in office as a member of the State Board of Education, I evaluated the state's proposed K through 12 social studies standards and oppose the ideologically driven materials. Because of this, I the first black Lieutenant governor of North Carolina. Was called a white supremacist and depicted as a Ku Klux Klan member by one of the largest media outlets in the state.

That did not deter me.

Instead, it fueled me to fight harder for our students. We were camped this a lot during our time in office, but I'm most proud of working with the legislature to secure $11.6 million in funding for apprenticeships programs for the rural parts of our state. Programs like this are going to be vital as we look to the future. Like many North Carolinians, my path to a degree was not straight or easy. For nearly my entire education, I was a full time student and a full time worker.

Often I could only take a few classes while working to support my family. It was just months ago as the Lieutenant governor that I finally walked across the stage at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and earned my degree 30 years after starting my journey.

I'm proud of the university system that we have here in North Carolina. It's among the best in the country. And is crucial to the economic growth of our state. Many companies relocate the North Carolina because of the quality workforce created by our universities.

However, we must denounce the misconception that the only way to success is through a four year degree. Thanks to investments by our Republican legislature, we also have an incredible Community College system where trade and technical programs provide fast tracked, well paying careers in fields that are vital to our state's economy and to our communities.

Electricians, plumbers, Masons, welders, mechanics, and other skilled trade workers earn incredible starting salaries. Many of those professions are aging out, leaving crucial shortages across our state. As our state grows, industries move and industries move here, though, skilled labor and high tech manufacturing jobs will continue to be in demand.

As we look to the future, we must ensure that our state is equipped to deal with the growth we are experiencing.

That means we need to have accurate, adequate infrastructure.

And I don't just mean widening roads and fixing bridges around the metropolitan areas.

We need to ensure that the entire state, from Murphy to Manio has what it needs.

A key component of this is ensuring that everyone in our state, no matter where you live, has access to high speed Internet. It's a fact of life that high speed Internet connections are essential in both business and education. It's going to take a lot of people to work and work on this issue, and I would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the ongoing work by our governor and our legislature and even our federal delegation.

This issue, like so many others we face, shouldn't be a part of someone. All of us, as public servants, should be able to come together and get this job done for the people that we serve. The reality is that most people just want their elected officials to do their jobs to make sure that our education system is strong there, our economy is healthy, and that our communities are safe.

Which brings me to the next item I want to talk to you about this evening's public safety.

I am highly dismayed when I see elected officials abandoned the men and women of law enforc ement at the first sign of trouble, and I am furious when they follow narratives instead of following facts.

The men and women who protect our communities and our state deserve respect.

Elected officials should make sure police have what they need and encourage them to do their jobs and be proactive in fighting crime. That's not the case today. We see law enforcement officers today demonized and vilified, and our communities are paying the price. Police departments are struggling to fill positions soft on crime policies release dangerous criminals back onto our streets. And this isn't just in places like San Francisco or Chicago. It's happening right here in North Carolina.

In places like Asheville, countless offices across this state just want to do their jobs and serve their communities.

We must restore public trust in law enforcement and return an air of respect to the men and women in blue. This means empowering police to engage with the community they serve properly, training and equipping them to deescalate dangerous situations, and, of course, that elected officials stand with our law enforcement officers, not use them as political pawns.

Here in North Carolina, we, and that includes me, have an opportunity to go beyond politics as normal.

In our society today, we are so divided and thoughtful. Discussion is often replaced with tweets, sound bites and heated rhetoric.

When you're sworn in, they don't give you a manual or a guide for dummies, so to speak, on how to serve or face the challenges of public pressure.

They don't teach you to handle a media that's more interested in the gotcha game instead of fairly reporting the news.

So what do you do?

You try your best.

You stay true to who you are.

If you make a mistake what you will, and I have you learn from it and work hard to do even better.

That is what the citizens of North Carolina expect their elected officials to do.

Whether it be on the City Council or on the Council of State.

We must drop our weapons of political war.

We must work hard on behalf of all North Carolinians. We must come together to work on real solutions to the real problems that we face. To overcome the challenges as we always have and to celebrate our victories.

I've shared with you tonight a little about my personal story and this journey that our state has been on.

I want to leave you with this.

Never could I have imagined, as a poor black kid growing up on Logan Street in Greensboro, that I would be where I am today. In the same way that I overcame the challenges in my own life, we have an opportunity as a state to confront the challenges that we face today, and we can face them head on.

And work for a better future.

Not just for our own tomorrow's, but for the tomorrow's of future generations. We all have a duty to make sure those children have hope. That they know they live in a state where anything is possible, and with hard work they can achieve their dreams.

I'm honored to serve as you, your Lieutenant governor. And to live in the greatest state. In the greatest nation on Earth.

May God bless America, North Carolina, and May God bless you.

Thank you.