RALEIGH – North Carolina voters demonstrated Tuesday that they want our governor to have a true voice in governing our state – they want to re-establish and preserve the balance of powers.
By breaking Republicans’ veto-proof majorities in the state House and apparently the Senate as well, they broadened the conversation about the future of the state.
The governor’s vetoes won’t be so easily overridden and will mean something now. So legislators must welcome him to the table and consider him relevant as they develop and approve legislation.
In response to opposition from all five living North Carolina governors – both Republicans and Democrats – voters also rejected two constitutional amendments that would have limited the governor’s role in judicial appointments and the makeup of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.
Again, they voted to preserve the balance of powers.
Unfortunately, voters approved a constitutional amendment that will lower the existing cap on the state’s income-tax rate from 10% to 7%.
The state’s flat 5.499% income-tax rate is currently nowhere near 7%, and it is scheduled to drop to 5.25% in 2019.
But in the event of an economic downturn and a plunge in state revenues, the measure approved Tuesday takes away flexibility from officials as they look for ways to support our public schools, community colleges and universities.
With the election over and legislators planning to develop a two-year budget when they convene in January, it’s time to think about the future of our public colleges and universities.
North Carolina is now the ninth-largest state in the country, and 67 percent of our state’s jobs are projected to require education beyond high school by 2020. Yet fewer than 50% of North Carolinians had attained a degree or credential beyond high school in 2016.
So demand for higher education is not shrinking in North Carolina – on the contrary, it is steadily expanding. And we must make sure we are in position to provide a quality education at an affordable cost to a growing population.