We need to work with school districts to allow teachers more control over their classrooms, implement graduated teaching roles statewide, and work through education reforms to provide technology in the hands of every student.
We will support policies that improve the intersection of education and jobs. NC has outpaced the nation in job creation and the economic reforms we have enacted have been working. We need to take steps to make sure our students can reap the benefits of a good education with the anticipation of gainful employment here in North Carolina.
When I was served in the Senate, I fought to triple the amount of money in the grant program and modify the language in a way that would provide more of an incentive where it was needed to attract productions in NC. As we can now see, those efforts resulted in multiple productions, and sets are now busy again at the studios. I think there is still work to do on this front.
Lower personal and corporate income tax rates and removal of outdated and duplicative regulations made NC more attractive to business during my Senate terms. We made a number of changes to various incentive programs in 2018 to make NC more competitive, and we will need to monitor the results of these changes to make sure we continue to be competitive regionally, nationally and internationally. As we see record lows in unemployment, we also need to work with all levels of our education system (K-12, Community College and University System) to make sure we provide our citizens with the tools to work in all the new jobs created. There is always more work to be done, and I look forward to creating more jobs for North Carolina citizens.
Per-pupil funding declined to a low in 2011-12 school year. During my tenure in the Senate, funding consistently and dramatically increased. Teachers received consecutive pay increases every year I was in the NC Senate. From 2013-14 to 2017-18 school years, NC moved up 10 spots in the national rankings. NC ranked second fastest state in the nation on increasing teacher pay while I was in the Senate. We will continue that trend in the future!
Access to clean water is a basic human right. While in office, I introduced the Water Safety Act to establish a statewide monitoring network, provide additional funding to DEQ for enforcement of bad actors and to clear up a backlog of permitting. The Water Safety Act also gave the Governor the power to shut down polluters, requires all industry that discharges into our waters to identify and report every compound they intend to discharge into surface waters, provided funding for cities and towns to begin the process of municipal connections for those on contaminated wells (with a provision of reimbursement from the polluter), funding for additional pilot tests to clean PFAS (and GenX in particular) out of the water, funding to UNCW to look into bioaccumulation of GenX in sediments and shellfish, and required polluters to pay for connections to municipal water supplies or whole house filtration in the event of contamination. In the Senate, I will continue to work on innovative water safety and quality initiatives.
Ideally, an independent redistricting process would provide the will of the citizens as to districts. Many states and many of us in NC have struggled with how to create an “independent” process. If we can work together to accomplish an independent districting structure that works, we will need to ask the citizens of NC to vote on a constitutional amendment to change the legislative districting process under the current NC Constitution.
A comprehensive resilience system needs to be developed as an effective tool to prevent erosion and mitigate storm surge risks. By way of example, the state typically funds a portion of beach nourishment projects today as a match to federal funds. However, due to uncertainty of federal funds in the future, while I was in the NC Senate, I fought to establish a storm damage mitigation and beach nourishment fund at the state level. I will continue to fight for legislation that focuses on coastal erosion and storm mitigation.