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Durham, NC (WBTV) -
Governor-elect Pat McCrory will be sworn in on Saturday, and sworn at on Monday...that's what he expects, he said Wednesday afternoon as he faced a roomful of bankers at an economic conference in Durham.
"I don't want to step on people's toes to cause pain," McCrory said. "I want to step on people's toes to get them to stand up and recognize we got a problem, we got to fix it, here in North Carolina. And that's what we're going to start doing on Saturday."
McCrory is bracing for criticism because he's about to make a boatload of changes in an effort to repair the state's economy.
"Our brand of incredible economic prosperity has been diminished a little bit here in North Carolina especially considering that we have the fifth highest unemployment rate in the country," he says. "We have to own up to it."
He says that's something his predecessor did not do.
At a press conference in Charlotte, Governor Bev Perdue once said, "Let me remind you again there is not a fairy up in heaven with a jar of job dust sprinkling it on North Carolina."
But McCrory says we wouldn't need magic if we had lower tax rates.
"Our tax system here in North Carolina is no longer competitive with the rest of the United States," McCrory said.
He believes the state's sales tax, income tax, and corporate tax are all too high, and that it's discouraging entrepreneurs and businesses from moving here.
"I do think tax reform is one of the solutions but it won't be easy," he said.
And that's because the other thing McCrory wants to do is pay off the state's debts... now.
North Carolina owes $2.8 billion to the federal government for money borrowed to pay unemployment benefits - he wants that debt gone.
"It's an unfunded liability," McCrory said. "We're going to deal with it. You will be impacted. Everyone will be impacted. But I'm convinced that if we deal with it now, that means the costs won't be greater years down the road."
Economist John Connaughton thinks we'll be in good hands with McCrory.
"He knows what's going on," Connaughton said. "He was mayor of Charlotte, we know Charlotte did well under his leadership. We did create jobs. We had very low unemployment during that time. So he's not unfamiliar with this territory. He knows this game, and he knows how to play it."