Fitzsimon File

Meandering through another McCrory maze

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It is getting hard to keep up with all the contradictions, falsehoods, and confusing statements coming from Governor Pat McCrory and his office.

Wednesday morning McCrory appeared at the State Board of Education meeting not long after his Republican colleagues in the Senate ignored his pleas and convincingly voted to override both of McCrory’s recent vetoes. The House voted the same way the day before.

One of the bills McCrory vetoed called for drug testing some applicants for public benefits. The other made it easier for employers to hire temporary laborers without having to deal with the troubled E-Verify system set up to screen for undocumented workers.

The overrides weren’t unexpected but came after a series of news stories about McCrory’s lobbying efforts that apparently fell on deaf ears among most of the lawmakers from the same political party that McCrory essentially leads as governor.

McCrory clearly wasn’t happy about his objections being ignored and for some reason used the appearance before the State Board to talk about it, promising to do his best to defy lawmakers’ wishes in both cases, saying no funding was appropriated for the drug tests and vowing to see if there was a way around the passage of the E-Verify bill.

That prompted Senate leaders to remind McCrory about the separation of powers in the state constitution. Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca suggested that maybe McCrory could find some of the money for the drug tests in the salary increases he has been giving, a biting reference to the swirl of controversy around the big raises given to two 24-year-old former employees of McCrory’s campaign.

McCrory also told the State Board that some furniture companies opposed the E-Verify because they want to hire “illegal immigrants” instead of North Carolina workers. That ought to help industrial recruitment, going after a major industry with vague accusations at a State Board of Education meeting.

McCrory finally did get around to talking about education, promising to find the money to make sure that teachers who receive their master’s degree this spring receive their salary supplement.

The budget passed by the General Assembly and signed by McCrory ends the supplement for teachers who earn advanced degrees in the future, but the April effective date cuts off teachers who earn their degrees in May.

McCrory told the board he “found” more than $10 million to make sure the teachers currently enrolled would still get the salary bump, which seems like a lot of money to pop up between the couch cushions at the governor’s mansion.

His staff later clarified that McCrory meant that the $10 million would be part of next year’s budget that he will present to lawmakers in the spring.

If you are wondering how McCrory answered questions from reporters about his unusual remarks, he didn’t. He refused to talk to the media, leaving his staff to try to explain it all.

And if all that is not confusing enough, McCrory’s press office also released a rambling statement about the veto session not long after McCrory blasted legislative leaders at the State Board meeting.

In it, McCrory complained that the General Assembly passed some “flawed legislation during the last hours of session with little debate, understanding or transparency.”

He’s right about that. Legislators passed plenty of sweeping bills with little or no debate about their major provisions.

Two of the most egregious examples were the voter suppression bill that McCrory himself admitted he hadn’t read when he announced he was signing it and a massive and complicated “regulatory reform” bill that slashes scores of protections for workers and the environment that were never thoroughly debated.

McCrory signed that bill too, so he apparently wasn’t too bothered by the lack of transparency. Next thing you know, he’ll claim to have waded out among the Moral Monday protesters. Oh wait.

McCrory ran for office promising to change what he kept calling “the culture of corruption” in Raleigh. Who knew he was planning to replace it with a culture of chaos in the governor’s office?