North Carolina exhibits responsible stewardship as Arizona veers left
Although Arizona and North Carolina are separated by over 2,000 miles, the two states share some similarities. Like Arizona, with Gov. Jan Brewer at the helm, North Carolina also has a Republican governor, Pat McCrory — as well as Republican majorities in its state House and Senate — a phenomenon that has not occurred there since Reconstruction. Until McCrory’s 2012 election, it had been 20 years since North Carolina elected a Republican governor.
The similarities end there. While North Carolina’s elected officials have acted responsibly in doing the peoples’ work, a coalition of Arizona’s Republican legislators and Brewer have aligned themselves with the Democrats.
The conservative shift by North Carolina’s Republican-led government is rankling the left and drawing weekly “Moral Monday” protests at the statehouse. Dozens of outraged liberals trampled copies of legislation before being handcuffed by police after they refused to leave the Capitol building, doing their best to disrupt the session. Last week, protestors swelled to the largest yet, with police estimating 2,500 to 3,000 demonstrators in attendance. Still the Republicans stood firm.
The protesters’ complaints cover a wide variety of issues, including lawmakers’ cuts to the amount and length of state unemployment benefits, requiring identification to vote and — unlike Arizona — refusing federal money to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare.
Along with the reductions in unemployment benefits, the state imposed higher taxes on businesses. The changes will help North Carolina pay off its $2 billion debt to Washington in 2015, three years earlier than originally anticipated.
“We’re responsible for making sure that all North Carolinians have a sound state government,” said State Rep. George Cleveland, a Republican sponsor of the proposal, which won bipartisan backing. “This was a necessary step in that direction.”
Despite the shenanigans of the liberal hooligans, what the Southern state did with its conservative opportunity is instructive. North Carolina, deeply in debt, took strong action to eliminate billions owed to the federal government along with deep state debt, by reining in spending and social benefits. It is reducing its economic crisis while responding to the will of the people who elected them. The state legislature nearly unanimously rejected the expansion of Medicaid. Arizona, shamefully, went the other way. GOP Gov. Brewer has even authorized imposing a bed tax on hospital patients to fund the unsustainable Medicaid expansion — a hallmark of Barack Obama’s administration.
“Medicaid overruns continue to threaten investments in other vital services such as education, public safety and transportation,” Gov. McCrory said. “Reform is essential if we are to successfully plan for the state’s economic future and get North Carolina’s economy growing again.”
Constitutional conservatives are winning in North Carolina. The shame is that’s not the direction Arizona — also a Republican majority state — has taken.