Editorial: Mixed bag from McCrory in proposal

Mar. 22, 2013 @ 10:53 AM

Should we use the reactions by the two major political parties as the measuring guide, Gov. Pat McCrory hit a home run with his budget proposal released Wednesday. If only it were that easy to judge.

Democrats and Republicans have increasingly grown away from the middle and more to the far reaches of their party’s beliefs. It is the absence of that middle ground which likely led to both sides having positive and negative reactions — yes, both and both — to the freshman governor’s plan.

Is his plan any good? Does it have faults?

Like any good 324-page document, it depends who gets affected for better or worse in the beholder’s eyes. And, the House and Senate still have to put in their two cents. They were consulted, but GOP lawmakers may have plans in mind different from the moderate conservatism shown by the governor.

For the bottom line of a 2 percent increase to a state budget of $20.6 billion, McCrory gets a satisfactory grade. Only going up $4 million and staying away from a major initiative is practical. Senate leader Phil Berger said he would have preferred no increase, as would we. Hence, a neutral grade.

But as McCrory moved money around, groans mixed with breaths of relief.

Economically troubled areas, particularly rural, are going to feel a sting. Job development going forward is getting questioned. McCrory proposes to cut $10 million each from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, and $65 million in funding for the Golden LEAF Foundation is being routed to the general fund.

There is significant job loss with his changes in public schools and closing five prisons.

Conversely, McCrory is thinking ahead, putting money aside to possibly deal with federal budget cuts as a result of sequestration. He’s increasing funds for learning technology. He’s fully funding Medicaid, the health insurance for the poor. He’s adding 5,000 pre-kindergarten positions.

McCrory is trying to steer our ship, keep it in control, and he’s not bringing in a legacy-making idea. At least not yet. When all is said and done, that might just be a legacy in itself, the best he can make to benefit us all.