Gov. Pat McCrory held a formal signing ceremony to herald his approval of the new FY 2015 state budget this morning. The signing took place around a fancy old desk that was set up in front of some red carpeted stairs in the Governor’s mansion with a group of legislators and administration officials standing in the background. It was, in other words, a moment of gubernatorial pomp and circumstance — a moment in which the Governor was positioned to rise above the political fray and strike a statesmanlike pose.
Unfortunately, the Guv couldn’t help himself and in the middle of the ceremony — without any prompting from the media — decided to take cheap shots at his opponents.
First, it was the North Carolina Association of Educators. McCrory went out of his way to launch a broadside at NCAE leaders by mentioning that the president of the group — which has been critical of the confusing teacher pay plan in the budget — makes more money than the teachers he represents. It was a petty swipe right out of the Pope-Civitas playbook. And this from a man who went out of his way to give big raises to cabinet secretaries who were already making six-figure salaries as one of his first acts as Governor in 2013! If he’s so exorcised about salaries in the state’s advocacy community, why did he never mention the salaries paid to the heads of the NC Chamber, SEANC or any other lobby group that has played nice with the conservative majority (which no doubt outstrip the salaries paid to most of their rand and file members)?
McCrory followed this cheap shot up with an inaccurate and disingenuous claim that opponents of his budget had never presented an alternative plan. This, of course, is absurd. Not only have critics and political adversaries proposed dozens of alternative ideas on the budget, they have done so despite being denied the opportunity by the legislative majority via various procedural tricks to offer amendments or to engage in real public debate about alternative visions for the state.
The bottom line: Gov. McCrory takes a lot of heat in the job he has chosen and it’s no doubt a tough and frustrating experience at times. But he would do much better for himself and the state if he would try — at least on occasion — to display a thicker skin and a more magnanimous posture toward his critics and opponents.