House passes fair N.C. budget


Contributed photo Rep. Ken Goodman, left, is pictured with Richmond County Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. at Goodman’s legislative office in Raleigh.

Across the state, spring has ceded to summer and here at the Legislature, we are embroiled in the process of creating a budget for the next two years. Crafting this is no small feat, but the House of Representatives has managed to agree on a version of the budget that received wide bipartisan support.

By no means is the budget that passed (H.B. 97) the one that I would have written if given the chance. However, politics is the art of compromise and the budget we passed is, in a word, good. Although many of my colleagues initially did not support the bill, 13 out of 18 Democratic amendments were successfully attached to the bill in an exhaustive session that lasted until 1:30 in the morning.

Ultimately, it received support from 31 Democrats, including every member of the Main Street Democratic Caucus. We passed this bill because it includes many provisions we are proud to support, such as:

• Salary raises for teachers and state employees.

• A cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees.

• Historic preservation tax credits, which ensures that our state never forgets what it was and where we come from.

• Renewable energy tax credits, which help attract a new segment of the energy industry while preserving our state for generations to come.

Producing a final budget is a long and arduous process, and it is now up to the Senate to pass its version of the budget so we can try to reconcile it with ours.

On May 14, I introduced a resolution in the chamber that honored all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The resolution I read also declared the week of May 11 to be Law Enforcement Officers Week, full of both appreciation for all that they have done for North Carolina in the line of duty and solemnity to commemorate all that they have sacrificed in the process.

I was honored to have many law enforcement officers seated in the gallery to hear the resolution. They included officers from the Highway Patrol, police departments and sheriffs across the state. They were recognized formally during session, and we all recessed silently that day in memory of those who fell in the line of duty.

This week was originally established by Congress in 1962, but has gone uncelebrated in North Carolina for far too long. Law enforcement strives to enforce the laws of this state in a courteous and professional manner at great personal risk, and we owe them a debt of gratitude for doing so.

After several weeks of constant meetings, committees and sessions, I was fortunate enough to spend the Memorial Day weekend back in the district. On May 23, I spoke to a group of citizens in Rockingham to commemorate Memorial Day. The event was well attended by many friends in our community.

I also attended Scotland County’s Memorial Day ceremony on Monday. It occurs to me every day how much we are eternally indebted to those brave soldiers and all those families who gave us their sons and daughters to ensure the continued protection of this country.

I would also like to thank Gulf and Ohio Railways for inviting me to a luncheon in Laurinburg to celebrate the anniversary of their Laurinburg and Southern Line. Running from Raeford to Laurinburg, this railroad pays homage to the past and is a modern asset to the surrounding business community.

Additionally, we here in Raleigh would like to thank Payton Stutts, a student at Richmond Senior High School, who recently served as a page for the North Carolina House of Representatives. She is the daughter of David Stutts and Leslie Greene of Hamlet. Payton proved to be a great help to the members during our busy budget sessions.

Visitors from the district:

• Bobby Locklear, Robeson Community College

• Owen Thomas, Dial Insurance

• Bo Briggs, Robeson Chamber of Commerce

• Harold Dial and Jadell Hawks, Public Schools of Robeson County

• North Carolina Second Chance Alliance

• Dr. Dale McInnis, Richmond Community College

• Noran Sanford

• Brenda Gilbert and Group

• Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Group

• UNC-Greensboro graduate students from Hoke County

• Greg Wood, president and CEO, Scotland Health Care Center

• Southeastern Health representatives

• FirstHealth representatives

• Kenneth Sealey, Robeson County sherriff

• Randy Graham, Robeson County Sheriff’s Department

• Laurinburg/Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce Legislative Day

• Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons

If you find yourself in the Raleigh area, please drop by my office for a visit. I always enjoy seeing familiar and friendly faces from the district.

Please feel free to contact me when you have questions or concerns pertaining to legislative matters.

Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, represents Richmond, Scotland, Montgomery, Hoke and Robeson counties in House District 66 and is chairman of the N.C. Main Street Democrats Legislative Caucus. Call his Raleigh legislative office at 919-733-5823, email him at ken.goodman@ncleg.net and write to Room 542 – Legislative Office Building, 300 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, NC 27601.

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