Justin Guillory, Think NC First 

Is it just me or does 2016 seem like ages ago? The daily onslaught of news and controversy coming from Washington, DC has been enough for two or three presidencies, not just a single term.

But it was just four years ago that Think NC First released its Roadmap 2025 policy vision. Built through research and debate among business and community leaders and policy experts, Roadmap 2025 was a dubbed a menu of policy ideas for North Carolina policy makers.

While Roadmap was a 10-year vision for North Carolina, it’s always important to track your progress and WRAL News’ “Promise Tracker” is a helpful tool. Recently updated, the Promise Tracker, reports on the progress of Governors’ campaign policy proposals.

I’d quibble with the use of the term “promise.” Candidates rarely make policy promises on the campaign trail. A policy platform is more of a starting point for negotiations, but that’s beside the point. WRAL pointed out that Governor Roy Cooper has made substantial progress on many of his policy ideas but hasn’t achieved them all. That’s understandable, since he’s been dealing with a Republican-led legislature for four years and the Governor is not a dictator.

While the Governor and his team should be proud of their accomplishments, Think NC First will share in some of the glow. Many of the policy ideas we promoted four years ago made their way into the Governor’s proposals and some are now reality, such as:

  • Expanding the Nurse-Family Partnership;
  • Making it easier to start a business through a single online website;
  • Expanding broadband access, including an executive order implementing a dig once policy; and
  • Reviving the Teaching Fellows Program

Other big-ticket items from the Roadmap are clear priorities for the Governor—if not his legislative counterparts—such as Medicaid Expansion and raising teacher pay to the national average. Furthermore, the Cooper Administration extended paid family leave to state employees and their ambitious Clean Energy Plangoes even further than the Roadmap on carbon emissions.

But the Governor’s agenda isn’t the only sign of progress on the Roadmap. For example, in August 2019, both legislative chambers unanimously passed H604 to create a study committee for state policy to help small businesses offer retirement benefits, such as a state-offered retirement account for private employers – as suggested by the Roadmap.

As we head near the mid-point in our 10-year outlook for the Roadmap, Think will continue to monitor progress and advocate for quality long-term policy solutions to help North Carolina achieve its potential.