With the General Assembly opening Wednesday, and Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration not yet two weeks old, a couple of things are becoming clear.
First, the four-year vacancy in the governorship has finally ended; and second, the next few years ought to be interesting.
Of course, that first revelation is a little tongue-in-cheek, in that there was a name on the door of the governor’s mansion: Pat McCrory. The truth is, McCrory was little more than an empty suit who served as a figurehead while the GOP-controlled General Assembly leadership ran the state.
Cooper, a Democrat, has come into office showing leadership, fighting for the people of the state and for the state’s Constitution and laws, not political ideology.
Even before he officially took office, Cooper worked out a deal between the General Assembly GOP leadership and the city of Charlotte, whose LGBT measure allowing individuals to use public bathrooms of the gender they “identified with” spurred the General Assembly’s HB2.
The deal essentially was that Charlotte would repeal the local ordinance allowing for cross-gender use of public restrooms, and then the GOP would repeal HB2.
Unfortunately, the GOP leadership reneged on the deal at the last minute. They will tell you the city of Charlotte didn’t live up to their end of the deal, but the truth is, by the time the General Assembly voted, Charlotte had met every agreed-upon requirement.
Cooper has also tried to rectify one of the most shameful acts taken by the General Assembly when it refused to accept Medicaid for hundreds of thousands of state residents who could not afford health insurance.
As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was to undergo significant expansions, covering most people who could not qualify for ACA health insurance. The federal government agreed to pay 100 percent of the additional cost to states for two years. Afterward the federal government would have paid 90 percent of the cost, as it’s doing in many other states.
Not only did North Carolina’s refusal to participate show a callous heartlessness toward those without health insurance and access to healthcare, but it eliminated what would have been thousands of jobs across the state. Had North Carolina accepted the Medicaid expansion, hospitals, clinics, doctor’s offices, and similar establishments would have seen the ranks of their patients swell, leading to significant job growth in medically related positions as well as clerical support work.
With those additional jobs, tax revenue flowing into the state may have exceeded, or come close to meeting, the cost of the Medicaid expansion.
North Carolina said no, however, for no other reason that it was a plan cobbled together by President Obama and Congress. In North Carolina, where politics reign above all else, our Raleigh leadership would rather allow people to suffer than to admit an Obama project might be good for all.
At some point, even McCrory said he wished the state leadership would take a look at the Medicaid proposal and not be so harsh in its rejection of the plan, but McCrory never once went to the feds as the elected executive of the state to say North Carolina would take advantage of the Medicaid expansion.
Cooper already has done so, and while the GOP delegation to Congress is opposing the move, we have some hope the aid ultimately will be extended to North Carolina residents.
The new governor is also reviewing a number of measures passed during McCrory’s final days, measures that limit the governor’s power, not because the governor’s seat needs limiting, but because the governor would no longer be a member of the same part as the General Assembly leadership.
Those laws he finds unconstitutional, or harmful to state residents, Cooper vows to fight in court. We applaud him for this.
Ideologically we do not agree with everything the new governor says, but it is refreshing to have someone in that office who realizes his job is to lead and fight for the residents of North Carolina, something this state hasn’t seen in a long time.