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Carolina Panthers press lawmakers for state money

Carolina Panthers’ owner Jerry Richardson personally asked state lawmakers to help finance a stadium upgrade Wednesday morning, offering a plan that calls for $62.5 million in state aid and state approval for $144 million in higher local taxes.

Some lawmakers responded with questions, particularly about the tax hike.

Richardson and team President Danny Morrison appeared at the Mecklenburg delegation meeting with Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble, who outlined the proposal.

Richardson described his long effort to win the franchise, which was awarded in 1993. He insisted he has no plans to move it.

“I would never move the team, I want to emphasize that,” Richardson told Mecklenburg County legislators. “I never made a threat to move the team. To be honest with you, it was offensive to me to suggest I would.”

Morning Memo: Tillis to face questions, Carolina Panthers want state money

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: House Speaker Thom Tillis will offer a preview of the legislative session this morning in a closely watched press conference. His Republican counterpart in the Senate, President Pro Tem Phil Berger, did the same earlier this month and how the two visions dovetail -- or don't -- may set the tone for this year's term.

Three questions for Tillis: 1. Where does the Republican speaker stand on taxes? Like Gov. Pat McCrory, Tillis has been careful not to stake a specific position in recent days but with the session upon us, his direction is important to the anticipated legislation and its progress. 2. Does he support the Carolina Panther's request for state money for upgrades to the private Bank of America Stadium and the city of Charlotte's efforts to raise the food tax to fund renovations? 3. His GOP lieutenants in the House appear willing to push ahead with unemployment benefit cuts despite a federal prohibition -- meaning 85,000 jobless people in North Carolina will lose their federal benefits. How does the GOP avoid looking callous in a time of great need?

***This is the Dome Morning Memo, good morning. One day until the legislative session starts in earnest. Read below for more N.C. political intelligence and big headlines. ***

McCrory raised $6.4 million

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory raised $6.4 million in his run as the Republican nominee for governor.

McCrory, who entered the race after his fellow Republican candidates were well underway, raised $1.1 million from Oct. 19 to the end of the year, according to campaign finance disclosure reports.

McCrory's biggest donors in the quarter included Morrisville developer Benjamin Ward, NASCAR chief executive Brian France, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, Jerry Smith, president of the Le Bleu water company, Ronald Day, chief operating officer of RBC Centura Bank.

He also received major contributions from the N.C. American Indian PAC, the Green Industry Council, the N.C. Association of CPAs and the N.C. Chiropractic PAC.

McCrory spent about $6.4 million on his campaign, leaving him with $66,700.

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