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State Update: Governor Cooper's State of the State address -- and response

In his fourth State of the State address since becoming North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper called on the legislature to seize the moment — a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” for investments in education, infrastructure, the economy and the state’s workforce.

Much of what Governor Cooper envisioned in his address found its way into the budget he submitted days later. Now, the question on everyone’s mind is, will the GOP members of the General Assembly pick up the baton, or will they drop it and forfeit the race for a better North Carolina?

In his March 6th speech, Cooper underscored our economic success, including CNBC’s designation of North Carolina as the No. 1 state for business. He used clean energy as an example of how North Carolina’s forward-looking approach has led to good jobs. He highlighted federal resources that have enabled North Carolina to invest more than $2 billion to connect every house to high-speed internet and another $2 billion to update outdated water infrastructure.

The governor thanked members of both parties for their work to reach a Medicaid expansion agreement. But there could be problems ahead, as the measure expanding subsidized health care to some 600,000 North Carolinians cannot go into effect until after this year’s budget is approved. Will a Republican-supported budget include provisions — ones the governor would normally veto — as the price Democrats must pay for expanding Medicaid? Stay tuned.

Cooper probably knew he was rowing against the tide when he urged the legislature to pass his education budget. Still, he made his case, stating his proposal “gives teachers and principals double-digit raises, it keeps the buses running, it helps kids with special needs, it keeps schools safe, it does not raise taxes and it balances the budget.”

The governor didn’t ignore the GOP’s terrible record on education and the party’s negative social agenda — “Use public schools to build a brighter future, not to bully and marginalize LGBTQ students,” he said. “Don’t make teachers re-write history.”

Cooper reiterated his support for equal rights. “Keep the freedom to vote in reach for every eligible voter,” he said. And he stood up for women’s rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. “Leave the decisions about reproductive health care to women and their doctors,” he advised.

The governor said throughout its history, the state has stepped up in critical times. “Time and again, overcoming adversity, our leaders had the foresight and the resolve to invest in new ideas that have revolutionized our state, impacting the generations that followed,” said Cooper. “And while we stand on their shoulders, we also stand at an altogether new crossroads. One that demands we have the same clarity of purpose, the same innovation, the same determination that brought us here. Our moment to build enduring prosperity is now. And I know that North Carolina is ready.”

The GOP response

Seated behind Cooper during his speech was Mark Robinson, the all-but-declared GOP candidate for governor in 2024. His response to the governor’s speech couldn’t have been nicer — or more misleading. Who was this imposter posing as the lieutenant governor, the man who only weeks ago said he supported “a total ban” on abortions? Was this the same Mark Robinson who has called the transgender movement “demonic,” “filth” and “full of the spirit of Antichrist?”

Fortunately, knowledgeable observers declared Emperor Robinson had no clothes. “Ironically, Robinson decried the divided nature of today’s politics in Monday’s speech, lamenting how ‘thoughtful discussion’ has been replaced by ‘heated rhetoric,’’’ wrote the Charlotte Observer. “Maybe he should consider looking in the mirror.”

Anderson Clayton, the new chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party, had her own thoughts about Robinson “He’s made it clear he wants to tell you who to love — and who to hate,” she said. “And he’s made it abundantly clear that he does not represent our North Carolina values.”

Clayton added that Robinson is the man North Carolina Republicans chose to be their voice following the governor’s address. “Leader Berger, Speaker Moore, and every GOP legislator should have to answer for that.”

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