Thursday, January 22, 2009

Speaker Hackney interview

I had a chance to interview House Speaker Joe Hackney (Democrat) today for my show this weekend. He was nice enough to stop by our studios for a 25 minute Q&A session.

The interview will air on this weekend and next weekends editions of Political Connections (Fridays 6pm, Sundays 11am) only on News 14 Carolina.

Here's some of the brief highlights:

On the budget crisis: "It's a difficult time to be legislating, but we have an opportunity, I think, to try to lessen the pain and do what we can to save jobs."

"There will be a lot of cutting."

I asked if it was possible to avoid cuts in education. His answer was that education is 55-60% of the budget and you can't do all the cuts folks are talking about on the remaining 40% of the budget.

With the economy hitting people hard, Speaker Hackney also said they don't plan to raise taxes to balance the budget.

He says lawmakers will develop a lean budget and find as many inefficiencies that can be found.

Beyond the budget his second priority is reducing dropout rates in the state.

There's been talk recently about a miles driven tax replacing the fuel tax or added to it, but don't expect it anytime soon. Speaker Hackney doesn't believe it has developed enough to make it workable and it's not expected to be a prominent part of their deliberations on transportation.

Finally, some interesting comments about smoking legislation. "I believe this year you'll see a smoking ban in bars and restaurants," Speaker Hackney said.

Watch the show for these comments and much much more!!!

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