RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Pat McCrory said Thursday he does not support the magistrates in McDowell County who are refusing to perform same-sex marriages, citing the state’s religious exemption law.
McCrory met with WNCN anchor Sean Maroney Thursday morning for a wide-ranging interview as the North Carolina budget process comes to a conclusion.
McCrory does plan to sign the budget once it reaches him. But he also touched on a variety of other topics with Maroney, including the issue of gay marriage.
In Kentucky, magistrate Kim Davis was jailed after she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. She has since returned to work and others in her office are issuing the licenses.
In North Carolina, all four McDowell County magistrates have recused themselves from performing ceremonies. Magistrates from a neighboring county are substituting.
Asked about the McDowell County magistrates on Thursday, McCrory said, “I respect their opinion and I empathize with their opinion.
“But I also believe that anybody who is in office, who puts their hand on the Bible and raises their right hand to uphold the Constitution, not only of North Carolina but the United States of America, needs to do that. That’s what they swore to do.
“That’s where my disagreement is.”
McCrory said he planned to sign the budget after it is passed by the General Assembly and said that while the process took too long, he is pleased with the outcome.
“To get 90 percent of what we requested the third year in a row is, I think, quite an accomplishment,” McCrory said.
Asked about budget specifics, McCrory said, “I’m very pleased that we protected teacher assistants, I’m very pleased we have given more resources to our community colleges and our universities, and that we’re tying that to performance.
“We didn’t get everything we wanted but I think we’ve made more positive chnage in education the past two years than we have seen in the past 10 years.”
McCrory did raise a concern about a new sales tax on labor and services. Much of the monies will go to rural counties.
“I disagree on this tax increase on labor and services, but I recognize that overall, we have tax decreases,” McCrory said.
The North Carolina Budget and Tax Center said cutting the personal income tax rate would reduce revenue by $700 million.
Asked about the implications of that, McCrory said, “Well, that same institution predicted a billion dollar deficit this year and they were dead wrong. We ended up havnig a $425 million surplus. Some of the people who said our state would be in terrible shape last year at this point in time were dead wrong.”
There is a provision in the budget that would cap state spending on transportation projects at $500,000. Maroney asked McCrory if that would effectively kill a light rail project between Chapel Hill and Durham.
“The way that program was eliminated is wrong and whoever has their fingerprints on that ought to come out in public and say they did it behind closed doors. We’re going to try and still change that, hopefully within the next 48 hours.”
The budget defunds teen pregnancy programs through Planned Parenthood, one for prevention in Fayetteville and one for parenting in Wilmington.
Asked if he agreed, he said, “I’m confident that there will be other organizations that will step up and provide those services.”
On other issues, McCrory said:
Coal ash: I think we’re coming to a viable conclusion on some of the coal ash issues and we’re still working on that conclusion.”
On the bet about the North Carolina-South Carolina football game, which the Gamecocks won, he said both he and Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina are trash talkers, and he knows she will enjoy him paying off the bet. He said he’d have to eat some crow in presenting barbecue to her.