Smithfield: Opinion

2014: The year in quotes

Each year, state lawmakers and observers make memorable comments that sum up the news of the day. The following are quotes from 2014 that reflect major news in state government and politics, with brief explanations to remind you of the issues.

“$30,800 is not enough to raise a family or pay off student debt.” – Gov. Pat McCrory, to The News & Observer in early February.

Context: The Republican governor was referring to the base salary for public school teachers, foreshadowing months of debate over teacher pay during the legislative session in the summer. Ultimately, teachers received about a 7 percent raise on average, with some getting more than others. Calls for additional increases in 2015 are mounting.

“It’s not the end of the primary. It’s really the beginning of the primary mission … to defeat Kay Hagan and make Harry Reid irrelevant.” – Republican Thom Tillis, to The News & Observer in May, following his GOP primary win for the U.S. Senate.

Context: In November, Tillis completed his mission and now serves in a GOP-controlled Senate.

“We’re told that, if the privilege license goes away, services must be cut. I would submit that’s not really accurate. Priorities have to change.” – Rep. William Brawley, a Mecklenburg County Republican, to WRAL News in late May.

Context: The General Assembly eliminated cities’ authority to levy privilege taxes on businesses beginning in July 2015. Brawley suggested cities could find ways to reduce spending without cutting services.

“We are re-examining our commitment to North Carolina.” – Bill Vassar, executive vice president of EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, to The Insider in June.

Context: Vassar expressed frustration after a House committee voted against extending the current film incentives program, which helped boost the movie and TV industry in recent years. Ultimately, lawmakers replaced the incentives with a less generous grant program that film advocates say will deplete the industry here.

“I think we’re going to be setting the trend for the rest of the country to follow when it comes to dealing with coal ash.” – Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Henderson County Republican, to the Insider in June.

Context: Lawmakers responded to the massive coal-ash spill into the Dan River in February by passing legislation to require Duke Energy to begin cleaning up its coal-ash pits. It’s stricter than federal coal-ash legislation passed recently, but not strong enough for many environmentalists and others.

“It was a good night for Republicans, but it’s not time to go spike the ball. We need to let people know that we’ve been to the end zone before, and it’s our job now to govern.” – Gov. Pat McCrory, to the Insider, shortly after the November elections.

Context: Republicans retained veto-proof majorities in the state House and Senate, gained another seat in the U.S. House and knocked off Hagan – a good year for the GOP.

“This is a civil war within our party, and most of you have to agree that it has to stop.” – Wake County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Blue III, to The News & Observer in mid-November.

Context: Democrats have work to do ahead of the important 2016 elections, when presidential and gubernatorial races will highlight the top of ballots.

Patrick Gannon writes about state government and politics.

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