It is time to come home.

I am fortunate to be serving the citizens of Iredell County in NC House District 84. I have to say that having an up-close view of state government has opened my eyes. I had no idea before becoming a member of the NC House of Representatives that a sitting governor would use bully tactics and jeopardize entire projects and pay raises for folks who really need them.

The state budget passed with bipartisan support and includes raises for teachers and state employees. This will mark the sixth year in a row in which teachers receive a pay increase and it will be the largest raise for state employees in over a decade. Because Gov. Cooper is demanding the General Assembly expand Medicaid, he vetoed the entire budget and blocked these important pay raises for teachers and state employees. He is willing to hurt these hard-working citizens in order to try and bully the legislature into doing what he wants.

We also have important funding in the state budget for the Highway Patrol, mental health services and other public and school safety measures all of which have been blocked by the Cooper veto.

We passed a bill this session requiring a financial literacy course be taken and passed by students as a graduation requirement. Gov. Cooper’s bullying of the General Assembly over expanding Medicaid has put the course at risk. Money in the budget for training teachers in teaching the course is also being blocked by the Governor’s budget veto.

Closer to home the state budget includes $40,000 for a new barn at South Iredell High School for the Future Farmers of America program. Also, $200,000 for a new Exhibition Hall at the Iredell County Fairgrounds. The old one has been condemned and then blown down by a storm. At the fair this year folks are going to have to use tents. We really need this building badly, but it matters not to Gov. Cooper. From his perspective it’s either his way or forget about any other real needs that exist all across our state. Needs such as $13,304,411 in capital money for Iredell-Statesville Schools.

The real irony in all of this is that the leadership in the General Assembly has told Gov. Cooper that we are more than willing to have a special session devoted to health care reform in North Carolina. Access, cost and healthcare options need to be examined and solutions offered that will best improve healthcare in our state. I don’t agree with Gov. Cooper in saying expanding Medicaid is the answer. Healthcare reform is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Gov. Cooper rebuffed our offer and then proposed a “counter offer” that has more spending in it than the budget he originally proposed earlier this year.

Being a bully over expanding Medicaid is not a good way to treat people or persuade legislators. Folks across North Carolina are depending on the budget that has been passed for the good things it will provide. Let’s all hope Gov. Cooper sees this and will work with the General Assembly leadership instead of trying to score political points. Quit holding us hostage, it is time we come home.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Representative.

Rep. Jeff McNeely

NC House District 84, Iredell County.

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