Excerpts from the prepared text of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s State of the State address to a joint General Assembly session Monday night.
North Carolina is one of the fastest-growing states in America. By 2025, we will have one million more residents. Many of these people will come to North Carolina because we are the state of promise.
People come because of the climate. The mountains and coast. The schools and higher education. They come because of good jobs and opportunity. And people come to our state for the promise of a great life and of good communities. And when they come here, they are welcomed...
Our people are welcoming... But some of our laws are not...
Tonight, I call on the legislature once again to repeal House Bill 2. The law has damaged our state. The legislature must erase this law from our books. Pass a clean repeal of HB2 and I will sign it the same day.
Pass a compromise repeal that works to eliminate discrimination and brings back jobs, sports and entertainment and I will sign it — as long as it truly gets the job done.
I also raise this issue at the beginning because HB2 is the dark cloud hanging over our state of promise. It drains the energy from what should be our work for the people of this state. Citizens from Cherokee to Chocowinity are sick of it and they are wondering when we’re going to cut away this heavy anchor weighing us down. Let’s do it this week. It’s time to move on....
I want North Carolinians to be better educated, healthier and have more money in their pockets....
In Raleigh, partisan battles, power struggles and lawsuits might grab the headlines, but we have to work together where we can. To look beyond ourselves to see what’s right for the state, regardless of who’s in power. That’s what the people of North Carolina want us to do, and what common sense demands us to do. So let’s get to work.
Job recruitment, raising teacher pay, fighting the opioid crisis, boosting our infrastructure and recovering from natural disasters that have damaged our communities. These are areas where we already agree more than we disagree. These tasks don’t come with a party label for a reason. They are priorities we all share.
Let me first address making North Carolinians better educated. As I have traveled the width and breadth of North Carolina, it doesn’t matter where I am or who I’m talking to, people want us to make education better.
When I’m recruiting a business to come here — to your legislative districts, the first thing they ask is whether North Carolina has the workers skilled enough to fill the jobs they create.
Improving education is an area where we can find common ground. We have to measure our progress and hold ourselves accountable....
Yes, there’s a price tag on these investments in education. But now that the economy is rebounding, it’s time to make smart, strategic investments in our people.
We cannot sacrifice education at the altar of even more corporate tax cuts or giveaways that are mostly for the wealthiest. Changes to our tax code need to focus on relief for working families — not corporations and millionaires.
We also need to see that North Carolinians are healthier. While we’ve made progress in getting more people health insurance, we still have an alarming gap in coverage that we’re all paying for with high-priced indigent care.
Yet there’s a new health care landscape in our country, filled with uncertainty. We have to sit down and have serious discussions about improving access to care for people who don’t have it.
Most of these are people who work hard but find it tough to afford to see a doctor. We also have rural hospitals that struggle to stay open and provide good health care across the state.
If we work together, we can improve the health of thousands of North Carolinians.
Being healthy also means clean air and water. An emphasis on renewable energy can achieve that, and it will help our economy sustain good-paying jobs. We’ve seen the positive results already.
When we take the oath of office, we take on the weight of tremendous responsibility. A responsibility to uphold our Constitution, in voting laws, in classrooms, in health care. To act in the best interest of the people who elected us. To leave North Carolina better than we found it.
To do that, we must put politics aside and work together. And in order to maintain North Carolina as a state of promise, I will make a few promises.
I promise to listen, to engage, to build consensus, to compromise when possible. I promise to fight only when we can’t come to agreement or when you leave me no choice. I promise to make sure state government employs people who look like the people it represents.
The people of North Carolina are watching us. Over the next few months, let’s fulfill our promise and demonstrate to North Carolina and beyond, that there is enough room for all of us on that common ground. God bless you, our country, and the great state of North Carolina.