‘Keep moving our state forward’: N.C. Gov. Cooper delivers ‘State of the State’ address to General Assembly
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - It’s been a challenging year for millions across North Carolina.
From the COVID-19 pandemic to fighting racial injustice, Gov. Cooper’s main message was for lawmakers and citizens to work together.
Cooper delivered his “State of the State” speech to a joint session of the General Assembly on Monday.
The governor spoke about expanding Medicaid, the continued fight against the coronavirus, distributing fund to those in need, bringing students back to schools and systemic racism.
“We’ve agreed before. Let’s find ways to do it again,” Cooper said. “Let’s keep moving our state forward. Let’s agree to listen more to each other and act in good faith to get things done. As leaders, we owe it to the people who elected us.”
Cooper addressed the people of the state at House chamber in Raleigh, which was followed by a response from Republican lawmakers.
“I believe with all my heart that North Carolina is strong, resilient and ready to face the challenges of the future,” Cooper said. “I believe we will rebuild from this pandemic to be even stronger than before. I believe we can roar into the future together, creating a shared recovery and ensure that all of our best days lie ahead.”
The address is usually given in February or March of odd-numbered years, but things are different this year due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This marked Cooper’s third State of the State address and first since he got reelected in November.
Cooper thanked everyone from healthcare workers, food workers, educators and staff and those who played a big role in assisting during the pandemic.
As of Monday, more than 12,000 people died of COVID-19, which is on the low end compared to most states.
“Your commitment and courage have made all the difference. Thank you,” Cooper said.
Since the vaccine rolled out, Cooper said nearly 50 percent of adults received the first shot, and about 40 person have gotten the second across North Carolina.
“Every dose is another saved, another family closer to immunity,” Cooper said.
The governor spoke about programs, such as the HOPE program, that has helped people in North Carolina from getting evicted.
It has served 36,000 families and given out $125,000.
“We are doing it the right way. We have to do so much more,” Cooper said.
Within the past year, the topic of systemic racism and social injustice has been a major topic across the nation.
There have been protests, demonstrations and marches after a Black person was shot by a law enforcement office.
Just last week, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, Andrew Brown Jr. was fatally killed by a police officer. Family and their attorney said Brown was unarmed.
“We must face head-on, the stark reality of systemic racism and how it hurts people and leaves them behind,” Cooper said. “Over the past year, and just within the past week, we’ve seen the harm suffered by too many people of color, in our state and across the country, and we must all step up together to stop racial injustice in North Carolina.”
Cooper said people across North Carolina, no matter what color, should not stand for social injustice.
“Everyone should have the opportunity and everyone should be able to feel safe in their own homes and communities without fearing authorities who should be there to protect them,” Cooper said.
Still, the governor said if both parties, Democrats and Republicans, step up and find a common ground, the tasks of defeating COVID-19 and social injustice will be easier.
“We often have our differences in these Chambers, but people in North Carolina should know that when it mattered, state leaders stepped up,” Cooper said. Let’s make a deal. Let’s get this done. A healthier state means a healthier workforce that is ready for the better-paying jobs we are bringing here.”
About those jobs, Apple announced Monday it is expanding and bringing a hub in North Carolina.
After Cooper spoke for about 35 minutes, Republican leaders responded.
North Carolina House Speaker, Republican Tim Moore, followed:
“Despite being from different political parties, both Gov. Cooper and legislative Republicans have many of the end goals in mind,” Moore said. “We all want people of North Carolina to have good jobs, safe homes and provide their children with the very best educational opportunities.
“I, and my fellow Republicans will try to find as much common ground as possible. We are not afraid of our differences. In fact, we view our differences as a part of the rich fabric of this great state.”
Moore said he sees a strong rebuild in North Carolina after millions of job cuts and an economic hit due to the virus.
“We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I’m confident we will put this behind us. North Carolina is poised to have one of the strongest state recoveries in the nation because of our people and our fiscally conservative government over the past 12 years,” Moore said. “We need to stay the course with smart budgeting, regulatory reforms and tax cuts that have led to increased economic growth, and I am proud to say our state government has its largest budget surplus in years.”
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