In the controversy over the state leasing the Dorothea Dix property to the city of Raleigh, state Senator Josh Stein correctly summarized the situation: “This is about a lease you didn’t like, signed by a governor you didn’t like with a city you don’t like.” And that is how this legislature has been operating, attacking anything they don’t like with little regard for long term consequences or continuity of government.
In Raleigh, it’s Dix. In Asheville, it’s the city water system. In Charlotte, it’s the airport. The legislature also overstepped local governments to redraw commission districts in several counties and are about to do the same with the Wake County school board. For the party of limited government, the Republicans in North Carolina sure are heavy handed.
Granted, Republicans won, but they won with a promise to create jobs in a state with the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country. So far, they’ve offered no jobs plan and the state’s unemployment rate continues to rise. In addition, the state faces some real and daunting problems like structural unemployment in many of our rural areas. Unfortunately, Republican legislators have been more focused on political payback and punishing enemies.
It’s not just that Republicans are playing petty politics, they are setting a bad precedent and creating the type of uncertainty that spooks businesses. We need continuity of government because, in this country, we have elections, not coups. We don’t need three years of political retribution every time one party or other takes power. And, given the makeup of the state, we may see frequent shifts in the coming decades.
Republicans would be wise to set an agenda for where they want to take the state and move forward, instead of looking back. And while I may not agree with the direction, Governor McCrory’s budget did some of that. Legislative leaders would be wise to follow his lead.