Wake County Commissioner Tony Gurley talked today about his bid for lieutenant governor, this year's school budget and the upcoming fall school board elections.
In an interview today on the Rick and Donna Martinez Show on WPTF, Gurley said the Wake County Republican Party "is very excited" about this year's school board elections in which five of the nine seats are on the ballot. Without mentioning Debra Goldman by name, Gurley talked about increasing the GOP board majority in light of how fractured things have gotten.
"I believe that people were a little concerned when Republicans elected a majority during the last election but there was a little fracturing of that alliance and so everyone is seeing that you can't count on a one-person majority always holding together," Gurley said. "People are very excited about the potential of expanding on that majority that we already have."
Gurley was also asked about the budget. In the face of three years in a row of declining county revenues, he said they'd try to give the school system the same $313.5 million that had been provided the past two years.
Gurley said Superintendent Tony Tata is "doing a fantastic job," pointing to how his budget proposal doesn't include any teacher layoffs.
"All of the fear mongering that was going on by certain individuals, even on our board, that this budget was going to have thousands of teachers being laid off has proven to be untrue," Gurley said in a backhanded slap at Commissioner Stan Norwalk's budget warnings.
But Gurley also acknowledged that Tata's budget is based on the state only making a 5 percent cut in education funding. He said a larger cut could produce "additional problems."
(In addition, Tata wants to use $28 million in federal jobs money to cover 550 positions this year. Those people, many of whom are teachers, could be laid off next year when the money is gone.)
Most of the interview focused on why Gurley wants to become lieutenant governor.
"I want to be lieutenant governor of North Carolina so we can take some of the lessons we learned in Wake County = the lessons of living within our means, not raising taxes during down economies - and take that to cooperate with the new legislature that we have and pursue those same goals," Gurley said.
Gurley said he decided to run only because he's convinced that a Republican, likely former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, will be elected governor next year.
Gurley said that it "would be a nightmare" being a Republican lieutenant governor under a Democratic governor. He said both elected officials need to have a good working relationship because the lieutenant governor is "allowed" to pursue projects by the governor.
Donna Martinez also asked Gurley about how he'd serve on the state Board of Education if he was elected lieutenant governor.
"I have been accused of, with my involvement with the (Wake) school board, of wanting to be on the school board and that I should mind my own business and not be involved with the school board," Gurley said to laughter from both hosts. "Well, maybe I did want to be on a school board. I'll be on the state Board."