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Political Notebook: Rep. Harry Warren to join Tillis Grassroots Leadership Team

U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis on Friday announced his statewide grassroots leadership team for 2020.

The group of political veterans will head the effort to organize volunteers in their respective regions for the 2020 primary and general elections as the campaign continues to build its political infrastructure. In the Piedmont and for Rowan County, N.C. Rep. Harry Warren, R-76, will be on the Tillis Grassroots Leadership Team.

The team includes other current and former state legislators, other local elected officials as well as county party leaders. This is just the first of multiple grassroots coalitions that the Tillis campaign said it will be unveiling in the coming weeks. 

“Putting together a strong grassroots movement will be essential to winning in 2020, and I am honored to have the support of such a great group of experienced and dedicated individuals to help me do so,” Tillis said. “Conservatives across the state are energized by the work President Trump and I have done together to secure the border, confirm constitutionalist judges, create jobs, and support our military. I look forward to continuing to run an aggressive campaign and sharing with all North Carolinians my ideas for building on these accomplishments.” 

There are 70 people from Eastern North Carolina, the Greater Raleigh region, the Piedmont, the Greater Charlotte region and Western North Carolina on the Grassroots Leadership Team.

Gov. Cooper calls for teacher pay negotiations after veto

Gov. Roy Cooper last week called on legislators to stand with him and North Carolina’s teachers to demand negotiations on a “real pay raise” for all educators on the state payroll.

Cooper reviewed several bills and said that raises for teachers are not good enough for the people who work hard to prepare students for a bright future because they are far less than the raises approved for other state employees. 

“I will negotiate the pay raises of teachers and other educators separate and apart from Medicaid expansion,” Cooper said. “I urge all legislators from both parties to help us come together and support our teachers.”

Surrounded by teachers, Cooper vetoed House Bill 231, which dealt with University of North Carolina System and community college pay.

“The General Assembly shortchanges our universities and community colleges and their employees, as well as state retirees, despite a robust economy and decent raises for other state employees,” he said. “Higher education is North Carolina’s best economic development tool, and we must invest in education to keep it that way.”

He also vetoed Senate Bill 354 on teacher pay, calling for the legislature to make a meaningful raise a priority for educators.

“The General Assembly continues to shortchange teachers and noncertified school personnel like cafeteria workers, bus drivers and teacher assistants, despite a robust economy and decent raises for other state employees,” Cooper said. “Educators deserve more if our schools are to remain competitive with other states and keep good teachers.”

He also vetoed S.B. 578, which would reduce the franchise tax, and H.B. 398, the information technology budget.

North Carolina Republican Party spokesman Jeff Hauser criticized Cooper’s veto of the teacher pay bill and bills for additional tax relief.

“This is the third straight year Gov. Cooper has said ‘no’ to teacher pay raises passed by the North Carolina General Assembly,” Hauser said. “Fortunately, despite his refusal to sign off on these important pay raises, teacher pay has risen 18 spots and ranks in the top half of the country when adjusted for cost of living thanks to (legislative) efforts. Similarly, Gov. Cooper has vetoed tax cuts for all businesses while taking credit for the corporate tax environment he has opposed.”

The General Assembly has yet to pass a budget despite being more than four months into the fiscal year.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announces education plan

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor in 2020, on Thursday announced an education policy that he says will create a nimble, modern school system in North Carolina that puts students first.

Under a Forest administration, he said, North Carolina’s public schools will have enough flexibility to adapt to the demands of the modern economy while boosting academic performance. Parents will also have greater ability to choose a high-quality school setting that works for their child, a news release said.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure that we’re preparing our students for the life in front of them right now,” Forest said. “That’s how you put students first.”

The plan is Forest’s second major policy announcement in his 2020 campaign for governor. In September, Forest announced a military policy.

Forest’s education policy hinges on four projects:

• Parents pick: Offer parents more options to find schools that work for their children by protecting and expanding the Opportunity Scholarship program and putting public charter schools on a level playing field with traditional systems.

• Four in the door: Ensure traditional public schools are safe and effective by ensuring each one has an empowered principal, an armed security guard, a computer science teacher and a trade professional.

• ACT now: Increase transparency and accountability in the education system.

• Learn and earn: Expand opportunities for students to save money on college tuition and graduate with advanced credentials.

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