Governor Pat McCrory issued the following statement as lawmakers adjourned the session:
It was an historic year with new policies that will positively impact North Carolina by rebuilding a struggling economy and fixing a broken, and often inefficient, state government. New policies include: tax and regulatory reforms, transportation, personnel, commerce, voter ID, and a first step toward Medicaid reform. All these initiatives challenged the status quo and make a positive difference in the future.
One part of our culture that did not change was passing some flawed legislation during the last hours of session with little debate, understanding or transparency. Too much education policy was slipped into the budget bill causing serious concerns especially from our teachers and educators. Executive branch concerns over long-term operational costs were ignored by passing bills with good intentions but unintended consequences, and overriding vetoes on drug testing and immigration.
House bill 786 triples the E-Verify seasonal worker exemption from 90 days to nearly nine months and has created a loophole that could cost legal North Carolinians jobs. This measure changes the law's focus from exempting "temporary seasonal employees" to help the state's farming industry to exempting a category of employees for any industry, regardless of the season or the needs. Thus, I will direct the executive branch to explore all legal and executive authority to ensure the letter and spirit of our nation's immigration law is followed in this state
Based upon the lawmakers' vote on drug testing, the executive branch will not take any action on the new law's implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided, not only for the Department of Health and Human Services, but also the funding for consistent application across all 100 counties.
I believe the future is bright for our state with the bipartisan teamwork that kick started much needed reforms. Despite the critics and special interests who want to retain the failed policies of the past, we were strong in our resolve to follow through on the promises we made to voters.
The resolve for systematic change must continue so we can compete to retain and grow much needed jobs for today and the future. The solutions will be complex and at times controversial to many well established interest groups, but we have no choice other than to move forward even under constrained budgets and a tough political environment. Major initiatives must be made with Medicaid, mental health, energy and education if we are to continue our progress.
In fact, today I urged the State Board of Education to take immediate action.
We have found the necessary funds through my budget office to ensure that over 3,000 teachers currently pursuing their master's degrees will receive a salary increase when they graduate, an investment of over $10 million. I also signed an executive order to create the Governor's Teacher Advisory Council, which will give a voice to a diverse group of teachers from across the state. We continue to follow through on testing relief for teachers by reducing the number of standardized tests, creating a local control option for our local education systems to innovate. This way our teachers can do what they do best teach our students. And finally, I continue my resolve and support for raises tied to the creation of a new compensation system for our teachers.
I look forward to working with the General Assembly in the short session to continue to improve our economy, education system and the efficiency of state government. More than anything, I look forward to visiting neighborhoods, towns and cities, plus businesses across our state to gain insight and solutions from the best of the best in our great state.