By Ken Fortenberry
I nearly fell asleep during Gov. Pat McCrory’s annual State of the State address tonight as he used the same worn-out platitudes that governors of both major political parties have used for years. More than an hour into his speech, I was still waiting for him talk about the critical need to reduce the size of our bloated state government and to protect the ever-declining freedoms of our citizens.
Yes, North Carolina is a wonderful place to live. Yes, we face many challenges (who doesn’t?). Yes, our people are resilient, hard-working and neighborly, but I yearned for him to tell us something new, and more importantly, to outline a realistic, financially-and-constitutionally-sound plan to make state government more responsive, more accountable and more efficient.
Instead the governor wants to spend more, tax more and put his signature on more laws.
You could have put any former governor’s face on Gov. McCrory’s body and the message would have been the same: more government, less freedom. One minute he sounded like a Republican, the next like a Democrat.
After hearing his address, I must conclude that the State of the State is status quo, and that means North Carolina is going backwards instead of forward.
When are we ever going to have a governor who realizes that the same paths only lead to bigger government and less freedom? When will we have a governor who realizes that robbing Peter (that’s you and me) to pay Paul (that’s the government) is just plain wrong and counterproductive to sustainable economic growth and prosperity?
When will have a governor with the guts to stand in front of lawmakers and dare them to make fewer laws not more of them?
When will we ever hear a governor challenge lawmakers to act with integrity and put the people before politics? (I didn’t hear the word “ethics” one time).
When will a governor of this state show some leadership and tackle troubling issues that are politically controversial but badly in need of reform and leadership?
Instead of Gov. McCrory seizing the moment tonight and pushing our state’s leaders to blaze a new path and to reduce the size and reach of government, he decided to put blinders on and take the same worn-out road.
The problem with the governor’s assessment of the “state of the state” is that his logic is flawed and is based upon the flimsy and constitutionally unsound foundation that government is some kind of medicine and that it’s somehow “good for you.”
He talked about everything from bear hugs and puppies to water fountains and the weather and repeatedly used the word “ensure” to once again demonstrate that he believes it is the responsibility of the state to manage your life from cradle to grave.
He urged lawmakers to spend more tax money to construct and refurbish state office buildings rather than asking them to focus on whether those buildings – and the functions that go on inside them – are necessary in the first place.
I didn’t hear the governor call for the elimination or reduction in size of any state agencies. Instead he talked about shuffling them from one department or the other.
I didn’t hear the governor say one word about reducing taxes. Instead, he wants the state to hand out more of your tax money in the form of special credits to special interests.
Instead of urging meaningful criminal justice reform – including the legalization of marijuana – he wants the state to spend more money in a criminal justice system that already is overloaded with non-violent offenders.
Gov. McCrory is an honorable and personable fellow, but he and the General Assembly would best serve the needs of the citizens of North Carolina by listening more closely to the people who elected them, and get government out of their bedrooms and boardrooms.
We don’t need more laws. We don’t need more taxes. We don’t need more departments
Instead of clamoring for “More! More! More!” it’s time for the politicians in Raleigh to shout “Less! Less! Less!”
It is clear that the governor and the leadership of the North Carolina Republican Party are content to be stuck in yesterday and content with a passive-aggressive attempt to bring meaningful reform to state government. In fairness, the Democrats are no better. Instead of facing reality and working to solve problems, they continue to play a blame-game and wallow in self-pity, searching for some kind of miraculous rainbow that will somehow restore them to power.
As a Libertarian, I am convinced that the best pathway to personal success for citizens and businesses in North Carolina is for the state government to get a grip and to get out of the way. Let the free market do what it does best: create jobs and boost the economy, and let the people live their lives without the government telling them what to do, and when and how to do it.
Ken Fortenberry, a nationally recognized award-winning investigative journalist and newspaper editor, is a candidate for the Libertarian Party gubernatorial nomination in 2016.