RALEIGH, N.C. -- Governor Roy Cooper gave his first State of the State address Monday evening, however, the state of affairs between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled legislature have been strained.
"In terms of trying to rally public opinion and public pressure on the legislature, this is his big venue to do that tonight," said Michael Bitzer, political science professor at Catawba College.
Cooper is still in his first 100 days on the job. Since taking office on January 1, he has been battling it out with the NCGA. There are pending legal cases and several bills aimed at executive powers.
"I think we're talking about a pretty deep and intensive partisan divide between the legislator and the executive," Bitzer explained. "It will be an interesting dynamic to see if everyone plays nice with each other tonight."
Cooper spoke about his optimism for North Carolina but highlighted what he believes are issues holding the state back.
"He may see his proposals DOA, dead on arrival, in the legislator," Bitzer said. "There may be some Republicans willing to work with the governor. The big question is how much is the legislative leadership willing to work with the governor."
He referred to the law, requiring individuals to use the restroom of the sex identified on their birth certificate, as a dark cloud over our state.
“Our people are welcoming. Some our laws are not,” Cooper went on.
The Republican leader of the North Carolina Senate called Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's vision for the state a "mirage" that would return the state to "our troubled past" of excessive government spending and high jobless rates.
Fall out from its passing has caused the Tarheel State to lose millions, from lost sporting events, concerts, and job opportunities.
Raising teachers’ pay was another focus of his address.
“Let’s put our money where our trust is and let’s raise teacher salaries.”
He is proposing an average 10% raise over the next two years, with a hope to bring their salary up to at least the national average in the next five years.
The governor also stressed education reform and encouraged more North Carolinians to develop trades.
"When I’m recruiting a business to come here - to your legislative districts, the first thing they ask is whether North Carolina has the workers skilled enough to fill the jobs they create,” he said.
Governor Cooper did not leave the podium without talking about recovery from Hurricane Matthew.
He asked those across the state to remain patient, as crews work to rebuild homes and schools and reopen roads.
He said nearly 600 families are still without a permanent home.
Senate leader Phil Berger has led the chamber since 2011. He pre-recorded a Republican response to Cooper's State of the State address that highlighted GOP accomplishments and blasted Cooper, liberal interest groups and the media.
Berger says Cooper talks a lot about compromise but blames Cooper for urging Democratic lawmakers to oppose recent legislation to do away with the state's "bathroom bill," or House Bill 2. Cooper said those bills either wouldn't work or fell short of what was needed.
Berger also derided the Left for organizing "vulgar rallies" and for criticizing Republicans as dishonest, immoral and bigoted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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