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Joint | February 3, 2015 | Press Room | Rep. Hamilton Press Conference

Full MP3 Audio File

Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for coming. I'm Representative Larry Hall, democratic leader in the House of Representatives and I'm joined by my fellow caucus members of the House Democratic Caucus. We're here this afternoon to talk about an issue that's very serious and on the minds of North Carolinians from the mountains to the coast and that's the economy of North Carolina and how do we improve it. Middle class wages are stagnant in this state and unemployment is something that is felt across the state. The time has come now to ensure we prepare to go forward and bring more North Carolinians into the employment and workforce and move North Carolina forward with jobs for our citizens. We can't cut our way to prosperity. Highway trust fund shortfalls, UNC system tuition increases, and shifting costs back to our community will not get it done. We can return to prosperity if we work together. There's no secret to what we have to do for us to be successful. North Carolina has had many years where there's been a combination of prudent spending and appropriate tax and incentives for business and job creation. Right now I want to introduce to you our co-chairs of the House Democratic Caucus Committee on Economic Development and on House Commerce and Job Development, both of them members of that committee as well. Representative Susi Hamilton and Representative Rodney Moore. Representative Hamilton. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Leader Hall. Thank you all for being here today. My name is Susi Hamilton and I serve as co-chair of the House Democratic Committee on Economic Development and on the House Commerce and Job Development Committee. We are here today to reiterate democratic support for job creation and economic development programs that benefit all of North Carolina's counties, cities, and communities. Citizens and business owners across this great state are hoping that a bipartisan effort will come together in the general assembly on economic development programs that will create and protect jobs and drive the economy. To that end, we are preparing legislation with regard to what has worked in the past to create and retain jobs and new programs that will work in the 21st century such as crowdfunding and new market tax credits. We are here to reflect on what has worked, what has happened since the 2013 tax reform took place, and what decisions should and can be reversed such as the historic preservation tax credits under the leadership of Governor McCrory and his staff. We face a major challenge today in North Carolina. Recent tax policies enacted by the majority party have resulted in a significant budget deficit that will affect our teachers, our law enforcement agencies, and our transportation needs. This deficit is also a major challenge to growing jobs in North Carolina. It is the result of these ill advised tax policies implemented by the majority party now in the legislature. Now, in response to the budget deficit, the leadership party appears unwilling to continue or to provide new job creating incentives because they claim that these initiatives will cost the state money but in fact they have helped bring jobs and increased revenue to the state over the years. We must invest. North Carolina now ranks 41st overall in its outcomes for its residents. In North Carolina, the growth of low wage jobs is now 11.5% higher than the rest of the country. Unemployment numbers may be down in North Carolina but the wages earned from these low wage jobs make it impossible for North Carolina families to make ends meet. Without the presence of bipartisan policies and programs that serve all 100 counties in North Carolina, and allow our commerce department to compete with other states, it is safe to assume continued job loss across state lines. Take for example the 7,000 jobs that have crossed the border from Charlotte into South Carolina in recent years and the thousands of jobs from film and television production that have announced relocation to Georgia. As our competitive programs are eliminated we can expect these losses to continue and possibly accelerate. I'd now like to introduce our co-chair for economic development working group and vice-chair of the House Committee on Commerce and Job Development, Representative Rodney Moore. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Representative Hamilton, and thank you, colleagues, and thank you who are here at the meeting. My name is Representative Rodney Moore. I represent house district 99.

...County. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We will now discuss how we can have some bipartisanship and have some sensible approaches to economic development that all of us can get behind. Prior to 2011 economic development and job creation policies that have proven effective were the result of bipartisan efforts to create and keep jobs in North Carolina. There is a good reason for this. True bipartisan efforts in legislation that is based on what is best for all citizens across the state, not solely for ones individual party or it's beliefs. A partial list of these programs that have been terminated or significantly altered and damaged by the GOP; I'll just go over a few of them. Inadequate funding for our JDIG, Job Development Investment Grant, a decades old bipartisan program that has left us ineligible for the last 90 days to compete for new jobs and companies coming to North Carolina. Research and development tax benefits that was repealed in 2011 and ends the states participation in the university research, small business investments, and ECHO industrial park development. Renewable energy tax credits set to expire the end of this year. Historical preservation tax credits. 90-100 North Carolina counties has benefited from this investment and now its gone. Port enhancement zone incentives expired last year. It allowed for North Carolina counties to combine efforts for industry recruitment in their regions in utilization of favorable tax status for each job created. Film and television production resulted in the lost of 3,000 North Carolina jobs. Aviation tax credits are used by commercial airlines and motorsports industries and it supports thousands of jobs with our airlines and all the racing industries that will end in December of 2015. The lack of carefully monitored closing funds to compete in our 21st century economy. As you've seen, we've lost some particular opportunities to bring industry here because all of these things or some of these things have been repealed or greatly reduced. Many have joined us today, my colleagues and those on the media and those who are listening to the sound of my voice through the internet to provide and [unclear 00:02:42] our perspective and notify our friends across the aisle and across the state that we are ready, willing, and able for a true bipartisan discussion on issues and policies that will create jobs and opportunity in all of North Carolina. We applaud the governor and Secretary Kluttz for recognizing the need to continue the historic preservation programs for the state that will benefit and rural and urban communities alike. As the governor stated from historic Concord last week, now is not the time to stop it. It is time to expand it. As democrats and minority we hope that the governor will reach across the aisle to house and senate democratic leadership and find true common ground on policies and programs with a successful track record, including but not limited to the historic preservation program. The people of North Carolina expect that we will work together and find a way to continue these job creation programs for the benefit of North Carolina. The people expect no less and we will do all that we can to be the leaders of this Carolina comeback that has been talked about for so long. This is the true Carolina comeback right now that you're starting to see. So I guess we'll take some questions. [unclear 00:04:10] [SPEAKER CHANGES] Right now I'll just let the co-chairs, Representative Moore and Representative Hamilton, handle any questions you might have [unclear 00:04:18] question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Is there any improvement or changes you'd like to see in the jobs incentive program as Governor McCrory rolls out a new proposal? Any ways that JDIG or any of the others can be improved upon in the future? [SPEAKER CHANGES] JDIG is a decades old program that both democrats and republicans have supported repeatedly throughout the years with an annual appropriation. My understanding is that the governor would like to put more money into that program. I'm also hearing that he wants to change the name of the program but simply it would function the same as

I am told the problem with that is that you begin changing names and jargon and industries outside North Carolina and site selection folks outside of the United States and outside of North Carolina begin to get a little confused. See, that’s part of the problem we’ve had in the last several years is the public seems confused as to whether or not North Carolina is open for business and what I mean by that is that they’re not certain which programs are going to be extended, which programs are going to be eliminated, which programs are going to be turned into grants, which programs are going to go through the appropriations process, and not understanding what the playing field looks like. It’s very difficult for the private sector to make a valid decision and for that reason we’ve seen a lot of industries turn and go to other states where they have more certainty. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So, is the argument, following up on that. So, is the argument then that you can’t repeal any incentives programs because you might confuse people? Could you talk about that? There’s one thing to have certainty, but some programs may not be giving the state the bang that it wants from the buck. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Certainly. There are over 250 tax credit programs in statute in the state of North Carolina and the public only seems to hear about the ones that have been targeted, if you will. One of those being the Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the Renewable Energy Tax Credits, film credits, things, the Earned Income Tax Credit, if you will, so those things have been sought out and eliminated or allowed to expire. But, what hasn’t happened is a full observation or study on to which ones are profitable and which ones are not. The large sucking sound you heard from the film and television industry over the last several weeks since the credit ended would be the example. Clearly, we have a burgeoning and very successful program in North Carolina and since it closed down on December 31, we’ve seen an 80% reduction in calls to consider North Carolina as a place to do business and we’ve had several announcements of existing productions leaving the state. The same is true for all 90 counties that have utilized the Historic Preservation Tax Credit over the years. They are now seeing falling apart of real estate activities and no interest in restoration and building their historic downtowns because of the elimination of the tax credits. So, what we are asking is that we be considered in the discussion because frankly we think that the Republican Party needs the input from the Democratic Party and frankly our votes to fully realize a true economic development policy in this state and right now that’s not happening. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Let me say very quickly. If we have to have some type of bipartisan solution, we have to have some type of conversation across the aisle. Let me remind some of you about this great state’s economic prosperity, if you will. The economic prosperity that this state has enjoyed over the last 75 years has been because of bipartisan and Democratic policies. And so, what we need to do is get back to all of us having a seat at the table, all of us driving this ship because it’s clear to me and it’s clear to my colleagues in this room and across the state that because of some of the things that the majority has done on their own, we’re now suffering in North Carolina in various ways. We have a very large revenue shortfall. We’re becoming less competitive with attracting new industry here in North Carolina and so we need to have a comprehensive broad-based policy to address some of those issues. In the next week or so, we will be coming out with some proposed legislation, Representative Hamilton and I, and that will talk about some of the things that we talked about today. We’re looking at how to enhance the programs that we have, but we’re also looking at new and innovative ways to that we can spur the economy. Susi talked about new markets tax credits, crowdfunding, and those things. So, all of these things are on the table. All of these things should be included in the economic toolbox, so that we can really have a Carolina comeback and bring jobs and industry back to North Carolina.

So that all of our citizens can, can prosper economically. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There are certain senators who have said all along that their, that their philosophy is to end all these tax credit programs and, and they let, they let several of them die last year, or, or expire last year. What makes you think there's gonna be any type of change of heart or, or that they're gonna go back on what they did? I mean they're not usually ones that go back on what they do or say. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you for the question. This is a representative form of government, and the people want to see both parties coming together and finding real solutions for the economic problems that are present in our state right now. So if I were suggesting to any other elected official in the body, be they Democrats, Republicans, Senator, or House, I would say remember who you're representing and ask them what they want to see happen. It's not about just what the people who were sitting the chair and have access to the button think. We must be reminded that we are a representative form of government, and job creation is what we all continue to talk about because that's what our constituents are talking about, and what we are here talking about today is true bipartisanship, not picking winners and losers. True bipartisanship to work out a real program that benefits the state of North Carolina, just like has happened over the last 40 years. [SPEAKER CHANGES] The argument we're hearing from Republican ?? groups like AFP is that the better way, rather than using incentives to attract jobs is through simply cutting personal and corporate income taxes. What do you see as issues with that argument? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, it hasn't worked. First of all, it makes no sense that we have a lower unemployment rate in this state right now and less revenue to fund public education and law enforcement. So clearly, if you're looking for the equilibrium there, you gotta figure out wow, somethings wrong in the policy. More people are working, we're collecting less revenue to support government functions that are required. So I think that it, it, and in addition to that, last week, the Governor's former budget director, Art Pope, stated very plainly himself that he was going to encourage the general assembly not to move forward with tax reform 2.0, that we needed to let the dust settle and figure out where we were before we implemented more cuts. And I, I think that that's a very strong message coming from someone who I fundamentally often disagree with. But for he to even recognize that we are in some trouble right now I think is all the more reason for us to hold this press conference today and to make these statements. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Before, before we end is there any other, any other member who would like to say something very briefly? Representative Haines? Representative Michaux? We're gonna end it right here? Well thank you guys for, for coming. Please stay tuned. I think that in the next couple of weeks you will see our proposal in real time and we'll be back to answer questions and see how we can best move North Carolina forward. So thank you.