Moving North Carolina Forward — Our First Year in Office
By Governor Roy Cooper
My goals as governor are to help all North Carolinians be better educated, healthier and have more money in their pockets so that they can live more abundant, purposeful lives. Over the past year, we’ve had a good start as my administration has made working families a priority.
Recruiting Good-Paying Jobs
Our first goal has been bringing good-paying jobs to North Carolina.
CEOs and business owners want to come to North Carolina because they know about our state’s excellent quality of life and highly skilled workforce. Unfortunately, when I took office in January, House Bill 2 remained a major obstacle to bringing good-paying jobs to our state. By repealing this disastrous law and with my strong anti-discrimination Executive Order, we reopened the economic development pipeline to North Carolina. While more needs to be done to end discrimination, we took a major step in removing discrimination from our state’s reputation.
With that result, along with a precisely coordinated recruiting process, we announced more than 21,000 new jobs this year, the most recruited by the state in any one year since 2006.
Training our Workforce
To keep attracting good new jobs, we must invest in more job training and education to prepare young people and workers at every age for the jobs of today and tomorrow. That’s why we pushed my budget and education plan that set clear goals. Even though their final budget fell short, our budget pushed legislative Republicans to invest more in our schools than they would have, including funding more pre-K slots and reviving the Teaching Fellows program.
We can make North Carolina a Top Ten Educated State by 2025 if we make it a priority. And I have. I called for the largest teacher pay raise in a decade. We emphasized early childhood education by proposing to eliminate the Pre-K waitlist. And I made it a priority to focus on our strong community colleges and support workplace readiness with tuition-free scholarships.
While we took important steps, the budget passed by the legislature is short-changing our schools and our future. We must do better for our children.
Combatting the Opioid Crisis
The opioid epidemic plaguing our communities is not only killing people, it is hurting families and threatening our workforce and economy. Together with federal, state, and local leaders, I have worked aggressively to combat this crisis, along with all substance use disorders. I launched a statewide opioid action plan to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths and signed bipartisan legislation focusing on smarter dispensing of prescription drugs and increasing access to the life-saving drug Naloxone.
I also served on the President’s opioid commission this year and urged broader health care and federal funding to combat this crisis. We need Congress and the Trump Administration to fully implement our recommendations. Lives are at stake and we cannot afford to wait.
Recovering from Hurricane Matthew
Hurricane Matthew devastated communities across Eastern North Carolina. In total, this storm wrought $4.8 billion in damage across 50 counties. I’ve seen first-hand the challenges in recovering from a major storm. I continue to direct my administration to treat families and businesses affected by the hurricane as if those families and businesses were their own.
We’ve seen progress as thousands of families have returned home, roads and bridges have been repaired and businesses have reopened. But more work remains to rebuild resilient communities. I will continue to fight for more help from Congress, the Trump Administration, and the General Assembly to ensure that we have the resources to complete this recovery.
Keeping North Carolinians Safe
Protecting Our Drinking Water
Everyone deserves to have confidence in their drinking water. We have convened the Science Advisory Board, made up of experts to study emerging contaminants and make science-based recommendations. We are pushing the legislature to provide more help to our environment and health agencies that need more experts and equipment resources to ensure they can proactively test and monitor drinking water state-wide, and stop threats to North Carolina’s water. So far, the legislature has imperiled our clean water by ignoring our requests.
Securing State Prisons
This was a difficult year for our correctional officers and employee community and their families. We mourn the unacceptable loss of life. Following the attacks at Pasquotank Correctional Institution, I directed the Department of Public Safety to do a top to bottom review to make prisons safer and took immediate steps to improve security at prisons statewide. We will continue to review hiring, training, equipment and inmate work programs and make sure that corrections officers have the resources they need to do their jobs safely.
Investing in Renewable Energy
I pushed for and signed a law that encourages lower cost solar energy for our state that continues to rank #2 in the country for solar. When the President said our country would pull out of the Paris Accords, I said not North Carolina! I will continue to fight offshore oil drilling that threatens our coastal economy and our clean beaches. Renewable energy means good paying jobs along with clean air and water.
Stepping Up for All Working Families in 2018
My administration is giving all working families a voice in Raleigh. Next year, we must continue to make them a priority.
I have appointed by far the most diverse, and arguably the most talented Executive Cabinet in our state’s history. With appointments to judgeships, boards, and commissions, I’m working to make sure state government looks like the people they serve.
I remain concerned by the reckless budget legislative leaders passed. We’ve seen the consequences of unending tax giveaways for the wealthy while shortchanging our schools, healthcare and clean water.
I believe that middle class shouldn’t mean second class. I am honored to serve as Governor and proud of our accomplishments so far. We’ve got much more to do. My 2018 resolution remains the same: improve life for working North Carolinians.