Grades mixed for first GOP-controlled General Assembly in more than a century
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RALEIGH -- The first full two-year session with Republican leadership in the General Assembly has come to a close.
This was the first time in well over one hundred years, their agenda directed the day to day operations of the legislature.
It was historic day on Jan. 26, 2011, the first time in about 140 years since Republicans were in control of the full General Assembly.
“By and large, they met their objectives. If the number one objective was to not raises taxes, they met that objective,” said William Peace University Profession David McLennan.
Republicans had a long to-do list after waiting so many years to be in power. That list included passing a budget without raising taxes, lifting the cap on the number of charter schools, and reducing regulatory burdens. All were these were able to be checked off.
But there were some issues on the list that didn't get done – passing a voter ID bill, put an eminent domain constitutional amendment on the ballot, and passing the health care protection act.
Some conservatives said the Republican-controlled legislature gets mixed reviews for their performance.
“And for people who are really big advocates for open government and making sure that everything faces sunlight and is completely transparent are going to be disappointed,” said Mitch Kokai of the John Locke Foundation.
Republicans were in charge during the key redistricting process that takes place every 10 years. By all accounts, this should mean when the 2012 elections happen in the fall, even more Republicans will come into power.
Political observers said it would be difficult to lose seats after redistricting, but even staying even in the legislature could mean the Republican message and agenda was not well received.
“If we see a lot of new Republicans in the General Assembly, that means it was the message plus redistricting. If it's a modest number of Republicans, it means that redistricting was an advantage for them, but maybe the message is deteriorating a little bit,” said McLennan.
Democrats argue the Republicans' style is all wrong for the state, cutting too much and not having the right priorities.
Conservatives see it differently.
“We didn't raise taxes. We allowed the education budget and the budget in general to grow, but we didn't allow spending to spike to an unsustainable level. We did a better job of spending the recurring expenses on recurring expenses and one-time expenses on one-time expenses,” said Kokai.
Republicans currently hold a super majority in the Senate and are a few seats short of that in the House. The Republicans' goal is to gain those House seats this fall, and gain control of the Governor's Mansion.