,It’s always difficult to anticipate how impactful a new governor might be, but here in North Carolina, we were given a sneak peek into the priorities of Gov. Pat McCrory.
The first Republican governor in 20 years revealed the day after the November 6 election that he had requested a security detail to begin two months before his scheduled swearing in ceremony, which took place at noon on January 5. Apparently, in the history of the state, it has never happened that a governor-elect was provided a security detail, unless they were already entitled to it. The outgoing governor, Bev Purdue, did have security after her election because at the time she was Lt. Governor. This leaves us to scratch our heads and wonder why?
When asked to comment on it, the governor-elect responded that he does not discuss security. And he said it with a straight face, as though that should be sufficient for those of us who must pay for it. Another brush off came when his staff pointed out that there was sufficient money in the transition budget to cover the cost. Once again, said with a straight face. The implication being that once it’s in the budget, there’s no reason for us to be concerned; it’s covered. The transition budget was increased, by the way, from $420,000 to $750,000 for McCrory’s transition. A 78% percent increase in transition costs could not possibly have any correlation to an inflationary adjustment, and no explanation of the increase was ever offered.
What are the lessons? This is a governor who has not one whit of respect for the taxpayers of the state of North Carolina. The thing is, we’re in a financial crisis. Republicans ramble on about their no-tax pledge, and McCrory has signed Grover Norquist’s pledge, but they can’t seem to back that up with a willingness to control spending. The $330,000 increase in the transition budget, whether it covers the cost of a security detail or not, represents a clear need for an increase in taxes, unless there was an offsetting reduction in other spending - one could be identified.
Just as national Republicans claimed to save us from the fiscal cliff while offering up huge tax breaks for special interest groups like NASCAR, our new governor clearly plans to give lip service to our own fiscal crisis, but not to actually do anything about it. I don’t know the cost of a state Highway Patrol officer and a state owned car for two months, but I do know there are other places that money could have been spent which would benefit the people of North Carolina as opposed to providing a convenient perk to the governor-elect. Absent any direct threat (which his staff concedes did not exist), this amounts to little more than abject arrogance and a complete lack of respect for the citizens of North Carolina. We can expect the next four years to be more of the same.