When I was first elected in 2012, North Carolina’s economy was in bad shape. We had the third highest unemployment rate in the country, a $3 billion dollar budget deficit, record high taxes and out-of-control regulations that were killing small businesses. That’s why we immediately went to work to get our economy moving again. We enacted job-creating regulatory reform, passed historic tax relief, rolled back government red tape and balanced our state budgets. These reforms have led to an all-time low in unemployment, over 500,000 new jobs created, the elimination of over $5 billion in debt and deficits and more money in the pockets of hardworking families. In fact, North Carolina has now been recognized by Forbes as the best state in the country for business.
It is my top priority to ensure our students and their education are put above all else and that parents – who know their children’s needs the most – are empowered and involved in their education. Since being elected in 2012, I’m proud to have supported increased funding for our classrooms and helped pass reforms that put our students first by reducing class sizes, expanding school choice, modernizing our schools and prioritizing early education. I’m also pleased to have supported five consecutive years of pay raises for our teachers, which has resulted in the average teacher salary surpassing $50,000 a year for the first time ever.
For far too long, liberal politicians in Raleigh failed to balance our budgets and make the same tough decisions that hardworking families must do every day across North Carolina. By 2012, after decades of wasteful spending and higher taxes, North Carolina was faced with a $3 billion budget deficit and record high taxes. Since then, I’m proud to have helped lead the fight to restore fiscal sanity in Raleigh and balance our budget by eliminating wasteful spending and enacting conservative fiscal reforms. At the same time, we have successfully cut taxes for our citizens, put money aside for a rainy day fund in case of economic downturns or natural disasters and given pay raises and bonuses to our state employees and teachers.
I have the greatest appreciation for the men and women who serve in uniform and I will always work to ensure they have the support and resources they need to be successful in North Carolina. Having the privilege to represent many military families surrounding Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, I also understand the rich heritage of our military in North Carolina and have actively fought to protect our military bases. North Carolina is called the most military friendly state in America for a reason and it is because we have led the way when it comes to supporting our military families and the installations they serve on. That’s why I will continue fighting for our active duty military, their families and the countless veterans who call North Carolina home to ensure they get the care and attention that they have earned and deserve.
Agriculture forms the backbone of our state’s economy, particularly in Eastern North Carolina. Food commodities, aquaculture and forestry products contribute eighty-four billion dollars to the economy. From sweet potatoes and tobacco to hogs and poultry, we have a strong and rich history of farming and agriculture in our region. I will always fight for our North Carolina farmers and advance policies that promote local agriculture production.
As a life-long sportsman and the former Chairman of the North Carolina Sportsmen's Caucus, I have been a leading voice in Raleigh for protecting and advancing our hunting and fishing traditions in North Carolina. I believe we can promote wildlife conservation while continuing the tradition of hunting the vast land our state has to offer and fishing the creeks, rivers, and ocean we are lucky to call our own. In the General Assembly, I led the effort to get legislations signed into law to promote youth participation in outdoor recreational activities and 7-day hunting. I am very proud of our North Carolina sportsmen traditions and will always work to ensure they are respected and passed down to future generations.