Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday that he will not call lawmakers back to Raleigh for a special session on economic development unless there is a specific deal on the table.
“It would be counterproductive and a waste of taxpayer money to bring the General Assembly back when there is no agreement in place on issues already voted on,” McCrory said, adding that, “after a lengthy session, they need a break. And frankly, I need a break from them.”
House and Senate lawmakers battled over a variety of measures designed to retain and recruit businesses during their summer session. Although McCrory is a Republican, and Republicans control both the House and Senate, the governor and leaders of either chamber did not see eye-to-eye on many of these measures.
For example, McCrory had sought a $20 million job catalyst fund that would help his administration land large projects. Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker has also said that lawmakers needed to put more money into the state’s Job Development Investment Grant program, money used to help recruit businesses that meet certain thresholds.
Decker had told lawmakers during the session that she needed help closing some “significant” economic development deals.
“If, however, a major job recruitment effort develops, and it requires legislative support, I will bring lawmakers back to Raleigh,” McCrory said.
Conservative lawmakers were uncomfortable with some of these proposals. When they’ve been on the campaign trail, conservatives generally have opposed programs that turn taxpayer dollars over to private companies, and during the legislative session, many Republicans pointed out the conflicts between the campaign rhetoric and those bills.
After the session ended without a broad deal on economic development, various groups have been putting pressure on the governor to recall lawmakers.
The North Carolina League of Municipalities, for example, called on McCrory to ask lawmakers to consider both broad-based recruitment measures as well as renewing a tax credit that helps communities across the state convert aging mill buildings to modern uses.
As well, advocates for the film industry have pushed lawmakers to reconsider a decision to end a tax credit program that helped lure major motion picture productions and television shows to the state.
“Obviously, these issues are important for the cities and towns across the state,” said Paul Meyer, executive director of the N.C. League of Municipalities. He said members of his group, which is comprised of cities across North Carolina, have been worried the state won’t be able to help close deals local leaders have put together to keep a business or land a new one.
“There are communities across the state that have projects that are sitting on the doorstep right now,” he said. Community leaders, he said, are worried they could miss out on a deal if the money and programs aren’t in place to help land a pending project.
Others are pleased by the governor’s decisions.
“The time for corporate welfare and special interest handouts is ending in North Carolina,” said Donald Bryson, state director for Americans for Prosperity, a national nonprofit group that has been active in campaigns and pressuring lawmakers to end incentive programs. “Special sessions of this type may have happened in the past, but Governor McCrory made the right decision to not waste taxpayer money on a special session, and allow further debate on the issue of state incentives.”
By Mark Binker