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It is important to me, and I have heard from parents as well that it is important we give our children the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to be successful in this digital age. Broadband connectivity in every classroom will offer our children to learn computer skills which will become vital in the job market. I am excited that this new capability will also help students learn necessary research skills that will further their education.

By instilling these skills at a young age students will have the ability to learn outside of the textbook, allowing new material and lessons to be crafted and taught. Many students may not yet have internet access in their own home. Our work to now provide it in every classroom in the state has given our children a chance to embrace technology in way not otherwise possible.

NC classrooms are now more capable to equalize the education of students in urban and rural areas.

Read more here.

 

As a member of the Joint Oversight Committee on Economic Development and Commerce Committees, I am pleased to announce the results of some work taken place to further accelerate the economy of North Carolina. The forthcoming state budget will include key changes to economic development programs that are expected to help secure a major jobs announcement in North Carolina in the coming months. This provision utilizes feedback from our prior efforts to bring large employers to North Carolina, and recent conversations between legislators and prospective companies looking to move to our state to modify our existing economic development and jobs recruitment program.

This legislation will enable a company that commits to investing at least $1 billion and creating at least 3,000 jobs in our state to be eligible for a transformative project award under the Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program. I am am alo excited to announce that these programs will be available to the three counties of District 48. The legislation will allow these projects to receive a credit for “expansion positions” above the 3,000 job minimum. It will lengthen the base period for transformative projects to 10 years, while extending the maximum JDIG agreement term to the base period plus 30 years. The $6,500 cap per job for JDIG transformative awards is removed under this legislation.

The final modification allows 10% of the award available to high-yield and transformative projects to be directed to the state Utility Account, which will benefit lower wealth counties such as Transylvania to support economic development in the more rural areas of NC.

With this legislation, we will encourage companies to grow in North Carolina much beyond an initial jobs commitment and provide long-term security to those companies considering making a jobs investment in North Carolina. This legislation will also help attract higher-paying jobs with the removal of the $6,500 cap and ensure that the entire state enjoys the positive impact of major job recruitments.

 

My office has heard from many people who are concerned that their school has chosen to close on Wednesday, May 16th so that teachers may assemble in Raleigh. Many are concerned that their children’s education is being disrupted. Many are concerned that the classroom time must be made up by tacking time onto the end of remaining school days thus forcing many more days of schedule interference. Many are concerned that they simply cannot afford to pay for unexpected childcare or to lose a day’s work. Many are concerned that they are struggling to find quality child care with short notice, and they must bear the burden of that cost. Many are worried that their child's meals were planned to be eaten at school, and now they are fearful they could be missed. Many school employees are concerned that they will miss a day of work. All of these citizens have a right to be upset.

I respect every citizen’s right to protest and to have their voice heard. I would, however, like to remind all the educators in my district that my door has, and will always be open. District 48 teachers do not need to travel to Raleigh to have their voice heard. My door has and will always be open to every one of you. I still will continue to be open and willing to meet with anyone or any group living in my district who has ideas to present me regarding public education.

This year our teacher’s pay will average over $50,000. Teachers have received raises each of the last four years, and a fifth- 6.1% is scheduled to go into effect in a few weeks. I have voted for teacher pay raises for both of the years in which I have served the NC Senate. According to the National Education Association, NC ranked #1 for teacher wage growth in 2017 and ranked #2 for teacher wage growth in 2018.

I understand how difficult teaching can be with the societal issues we face today, and how important it is to our children and their future. I am incredibly appreciative of the jobs our teachers do, and I am happy to listen to those with constructive suggestions on how to continue to better our state’s education system.

However, this closure for what appears to be little more than a political rally places an undue burden on parents working hard to provide for their children. Ultimately, it is the decision of the local school board and superintendent to close these schools to accommodate this scheduled protest.

For those of you who have scheduled to meet with me in Raleigh on Wednesday, I will be looking forward to our dialog.

 

Originally from Greenville, NC for the past year Abbey Hudson has helped serve the citizens of District 48 from my Raleigh office. With a radiant smile, gleaming personality, and enthusiastic disposition- she assists with constituent services and legislative research. She cheerfully approaches the routine day to day duties of running our legislative office such as handling the phone, writing letters, and managing the mail.

This weekend Abbey will graduate from NC State University with a Bachelor’s in Communications and a Minor in Political Science. She has been accepted to Campbell Law School where she will begin work towards her law degree. She plans a career as an attorney.

Abbey, we are so proud of you! And we thank you for helping us make a positive difference in NC Senate District 48.

 

The legislative Republicans’ pro-growth economic policies are working and the proof is in the $357 million revenue surplus this year. This is North Carolina’s fourth consecutive revenue surplus. In fact, we should be expecting a fifth consecutive revenue surplus next year. In 2011, we inherited a massive $2.5 billion budget deficit from Governor Roy Cooper’s Democratic Party. Since then, Republicans have been working hard to strengthen North Carolina’s balance sheet and implement pro-growth economic policies.

Our economic policies have resulted in consecutive budget surpluses and a record rainy day fund. In addition, these policies have helped create over half a million new jobs in our state. North Carolina has emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the nation because of our economic policies. These strong revenue numbers have enabled us to agree on a spending target of $23.917 billion for the fiscal year 2018-2019 state budget. Our spending target will help us fulfill our commitment to passing a fifth consecutive teacher pay raise while keeping taxes low on middle-class families and small businesses.

This spending target represents a responsible 3.85 percent annual growth rate for the state budget. In addition, it will increase spending on key state priorities by roughly $886 million while still allowing millions of North Carolinians to keep more of their own earnings. The NC Republican legislators and I are steadfast in our agreement to resist the persistent calls for job-killing tax hikes.

Unfortunately, there are some in NC that want to spend large amounts of our money and go back to a model that has proven to be a failure. However, we have learned from the failures of this model of tax-and-spend economic schemes. Last year, my fellow Republican legislators and I passed a responsible plan that promised a generous teacher pay raise and lower taxes for working families. This year, we are committed to work quickly and efficiently to build upon these promises. We will maintain our proven approach to successfully keep North Carolina on solid financial ground.