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Predicted: Slow takeoff for economy, McCrory

Mark Twain said it is better to have people think you a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. Wary of that likelihood I nevertheless make my predictions for 2013. The word this year is reform.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s transition team says state government is a mess, the result of leadership’s inability to prioritize, overlapping programs, bureaucracy and across the board budget cuts.
Governor McCrory enjoys a honeymoon with the Republican legislature, having success with an ambitious agenda his first six months. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger increase their influence over their respective houses, due to the large number of new members, but friction grows between the two as both have interest in seeking Kay Hagan’s Senate seat in 2014.
Despite much discussion about tax reform, don’t look for real change in our tax codes; there’s a lobbyist behind every reform proposal. However, legislators will reduce regulations for small businesses and trim top individual and corporate income tax rates.
Our economy will improve a bit faster this year but the unemployment rate will continue to exceed the national average and won’t beat our neighboring states. One McCrory initiative includes increased job training funding for the 58 community colleges so unemployed and underemployed workers can find jobs. The governor will propose a large public infrastructure improvement program, selling state bonds to pay for roads, bridges, water systems and schools. McCrory, Berger and Tillis pledge to pay the debt service by cutting spending. Voters handily approve the referendum billed as a jobs program.
Republicans take full control of the UNC Board of Governors and will direct the system, which lost legislative clout due to the departure of many longtime powerful legislative allies, to improve graduation rates, lower overhead costs and refocus on their core mission educating students.
2013 will be a breakthrough year in K-12 public education reforms. McCrory will name a new majority to the State Board of Education and quickly emphasize a workforce-training track in addition to the college track curriculum. He will advocate laptop computers for students, using new software curriculums. Reforms will include the role of and retraining for classroom teachers in implementing these new technologies. In the face of court decisions legislators will attempt to eliminate the pre-K program altogether. Teachers and state employees will feel diminished influence resulting from their resolute support of Democrats. Those Democrats still won’t understand why they lost control of state government, naming new party leaders who rail against Republicans instead of proposing viable alternatives.
The redistricting that followed the 2010 census has painful consequences for rural sections. The economic and power schism is especially evident east of I-95 and in the far west. Eastern leaders will organize to seek solutions rather than watching further decline. A new independent, bi-partisan think-tank comprised from all sectors will be formed to support existing leaders and develop new leadership.
Duke wins its fifth NCAA basketball championship. The UNC athletics-academic scandal continues with no further NCAA sanctions.
Medicaid will be reformed and hospitals will continue under the microscope, but patients will also be called to responsibility for improving their health while also reducing healthcare costs.
That’s the way we see 2013 unfolding.

Tom Campbell is creator/host of NC SPIN.  Contact him at www.ncspin.com.

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