McCRORY'S BUDGET DEBUTS TODAY: Gov. Pat McCrory will unveil his first state budget proposal at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday -- a document that will help define his legislative agenda and vision for the state. Here are five questions he will face:
1. THE STATUS QUO OR BIG IDEAS? The state budget is as much a policy document as it is a line-item spending plan. Does McCrory offer big ideas to overhaul state government, such as a tax overhaul or major spending cuts, or put forward a status quo budget with few changes from the previous years?
2. WHO'S BUDGET IS THIS -- McCRORY'S OR POPE'S? State Budget Director Art Pope knows the innards of state government from his time as a lawmaker. But he is a polarizing figure in some political spheres and Democrats are looking for his fingerprints, ideological and otherwise, on the spending plan.
3. HOW DOES THE BUDGET ADDRESS UNDERPAID TEACHERS, OR STATE EMPLOYEES? McCrory's budget comes days after a new report showed the state's teachers ranked No. 48 in the nation in pay. Does the governor acknowledge this and offer them a raise? And likewise with state employees, who received a minimal 1.2 percent salary bump last year after years without pay increases -- do they get any love?
4. HOW DOES THIS BUDGET HELP CREATE JOBS?Following the GOP mantra that everything is about jobs this legislative session, what does the budget do in terms of economic development, incentives and job creation?
5. WILL LAWMAKERS TAKE IT SERIOUSLY? McCrory is the new governor with an approval rating higher than state lawmakers, but the lawmakers craft the budget. Will they stick closely to McCrory's draft or go their own direction?
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