Early voting has started in North Carolina, and the economy is a pressing issue for voters heading to the polls.
For N.C. House district 26 candidates, plans for fixing the economy range from restructuring taxes to building on the state’s community college system.
Republican incumbent Leo Daughtry is running against Democrat Jenifer Bubenik, and each has different ideas for how to bring the unemployment rate down and improve the state’s economy.
Daughtry said that the answer to lowering unemployment isn’t for the state to add anyone else to their payrolls, even though large numbers of those laid off during the recession were public employees.
“Clearly the state government can’t create jobs, they can’t hire people, that’s not gonna work,” Daughtry said.
Rather, he said it’s up to the state to create an environment for businesses to want to open in or come to North Carolina. If re-elected, Daughtry said he would work to restructure the tax code by lowering taxes and spreading them out more.
“We wouldn’t lower the revenue coming in but it would be paid in a different way. There’s a number of loopholes I think we could close to make the tax structure fairer to people,” Daughtry said.
Daughtry also emphasized paying special attention to counties with higher unemployment rates of as much as 11, 12 and even 15 percent, by building the infrastructure that could bring businesses and jobs.
“Another thing we could do is create infrastructure in places in our state that really needs jobs. I mean by infrastructure roads, water and sewer. There are certain parts of Johnston County that needs additional infrastructure,” Daughtry said.
As for bringing new businesses to North Carolina, Daughtry said he’d rather focus on making communities friendly to small businesses rather than engaging in what he calls “buffalo hunts.”
“We were not successful in a number of those big hunts but we’ve always been successful with small businesses, making them grow and making sure our communities are friendly to the small businesses – that’s really where the jobs are,” Daughtry said.
Bubenik also stressed having a friendly environment for small businesses and giving young entrepreneurs the potential to grow and expand.
“I think the best thing we can do to get North Carolina going is to invite new business into our area, new entrepreneurs, young entrepreneurs who may have the next Google, who may have the next Caterpillar, and invite them into Johnston County and see where that leads,” Bubenik said. “There are so many people out there with so many great ideas, and all they need is the financial backing.”
Bubenik said two local examples of investing in new small businesses is the new brewery opening in Clayton and the solar panel company opening in Selma.
Bubenik also emphasized the importance of supporting public education and community colleges in relation to growing the economy.
“Another thing I would like to see happen is to work off the strength of our community college system along with our private industry,” Bubenik said.
By getting community colleges to partner training programs with local industries, technical degrees can lead directly into jobs.
Bubenik said it’s important to make sure that people who have jobs are getting paid what they deserve.
“Another way that I think we can improve the economy is by paying people equally,” Bubenik said. “Women in North Carolina still earn only 81 percent of a man’s salary. That equals up to $8,000 lost each year per family.”
With so many dual income families, Bubenik said $8,000 can make a large difference when it comes to what families are able to invest in and buy.