With the ongoing crisis over North Carolina’s embarrassing duel with Mississippi to enact the nation’s most regressive anti-LGBT discrimination law still dominating the news and political discussion in the state, Gov. Pat McCrory tried to change the subject yesterday by proposing a significant pay raise for the state’s long-abused public school teachers. Unfortunately, for the Guv, it didn’t work — but probably not for the reason that you might suspect.
The obvious explanation for the chirping crickets reaction to the pay plan is the size and depth of the discrimination law problem. And it’s true, with one of the nation’s fast growing web giants, PayPal, announcing cancellation of a 400 person expansion in Charlotte in response to the new law at almost the very same moment as the Governor’s pay announcement, there was clearly less news media oxygen to go around.
But ultimately, here’s the main reason the teacher proposal has produced unanimous yawns: No one — friend or foe — takes Gov. McCrory seriously. Not only are his plans half-baked, they come with no real prospect for actual passage into law. This is from a statement issued by the N.C. Association of Educators:
“Once again there is no long-range plan to elevate public school educators to the head of the class, only election year proposals that do little to make up for years of disrespecting the education profession and dismantling our public schools. It also leaves education support professionals with nothing. There is a reason educator turnover rates are at historic levels. The governor has a track record of signing whatever the Legislature sends him, even if it’s a budget that ends up making North Carolina the second worst for teachers in America.”
The NCAE is right. As a practical matter, McCrory’s education proposals to the General Assembly have about as much impact as those of Democratic State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson. Legislative leaders — especially Senate President Phil Berger — are utterly and openly contemptuous of the Governor and have made clear that McCrory’s proposals on virtually every subject will be ignored as the Guv has never demonstrated an iota of capacity to exert power — much less stand up to the legislature.
The bottom line: Pat McCrory may get re-elected this fall and serve eight years in office, but until he finds some way to fill the shoes that come with the office, he is, has been and always will be a lame duck when it comes to the vast majority of important policy debates in state government.