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The continuing disconnect on economic development

Sharon DeckerYou gotta’ hand it to state Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker for one thing: she continues to be the one McCrory administration official who will occasionally admit a problem and not directly blame the Perdue administration for its existence. She also frequently doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least she occasionally seems sincere.

This past summer, she  said that the controversial legislative session and the protests it spawned was making it tough to sell the state to potentially relocating businesses. Now, this week, as several news outlets have reported, she’s admitted that North Carolina’s “skills gap” is a problem when wooing businesses looking for highly-educated workers.

Funny, that sounds an awful lot like what progressives and McCrory administration critics have been saying all along — namely that the key to solving our economic problems lies not in slashing taxes but in investing in our kids and workers

Sadly, after this fleeting moment of candor, Decker went back on script and to talking about the administration’s cockamamie plan to privatize many of her Department’s core functions. You remember this idea: it’s the plan to vest decision-making authority over state business incentives in the same people who raise political contributions for the Governor. What could go wrong with that?

Decker also, somewhat weirdly, claimed that North Carolina’s persistently high unemployment was partially the result of too many unemployed people moving here looking for work. This is strange: I thought the state’s supposedly burdensome tax rates were keeping people from moving here.

Anyway, let’s hope Decker continues to speak out and engage with the public on these issues and occasionally wander off script. In the current political environment in Raleigh, even tiny hints of candor or, heaven forbid, self-criticism, are in desperately short supply.

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