Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August 2016 - NC House Update

There have been notable developments over the last few weeks related to public policy in North Carolina. Here is a quick summary of news that may not have been widely reported in the press.

State Budget Revenue is Strong

New projections from the State Budget Office indicate that North Carolina is expected to have a $425 million revenue surplus, which is above projections from a few months ago. This is due to an increase in employment, stronger economic activity and sound budget policy. You won't hear this reported often in the media, but this is great news for North Carolina.

Business Tax Cuts

Due to strong budget revenue, there will be a reduction in North Carolina's business tax. It will be reduced from 4 percent to 3 percent in January 2017, which is down from 6.9 percent a few years ago. This will increase economic activity, encourage job creation and improve our overall business climate.

Our Economy Continues to Grow

The private sector in North Carolina has added over 300,000 net new jobs since 2013. Our State GDP is among the strongest in the nation, and our rate of job creation has out-paced the national average. The unemployment rate in North Carolina has been reduced to pre-recession levels, indicating that our economic recovery is moving in the right direction.

Supporting Our Veterans

The state legislature has taken action to support veterans in North Carolina. These steps include the creation of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs; providing in-state tuition for veterans at North Carolina community colleges and universities; allowing military experience to convert to college credit and professional licensing; and creating Veteran Treatment Courts.

Crowd Funding Becomes Lawful

Governor Pat McCrory recently signed legislation to allow "crowd funding," which is a mechanism for small businesses to raise private capital from non-accredited investors. This levels the playing field for entrepreneurs who find it difficult to access capital from large banks and venture capital funds. It is important to remember that small businesses are the backbone of our economy.

CSX Expands in North Carolina

Officials recently announced that CSX is opening a cargo terminal in Edgecombe County, which will create upwards of 1,500 jobs throughout North Carolina. The company, which transfers cargo between trains and trucks, will invest $160 million in the project. This will have a positive impact on our State's economy.

North Carolina School Rankings Improve

North Carolina has improved 18 spots in Wallet Hub's ranking of education quality. We are now ranked 19th in the country for school quality and safety among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The study was done using several metrics to study school quality and safety.

The WalletHub report can be found here:

North Carolina Scores High with CNBC

CNBC recently ranked North Carolina number five on their annual list of America's Top States for Business. The metrics used to provide these rankings include workforce, cost of doing business, infrastructure, economy, education, quality of life, etc. Although this is a strong score for North Carolina, our goal is to one day reach the top spot.

Enhanced Teacher Pay / Textbook Funding 

This year's budget increases teacher pay by an average of 4.7 percent and enhances funding for textbooks. Teacher pay has increased at a steady pace in North Carolina over the last three years. The average salary for teachers will soon exceed $50,000 per year, and when benefits are included, total compensation will be approximately $65,000 per year.

This graph shows how teacher pay has increased over the last few budget cycles, which was done under Republican control; Republicans took the full majority (House, Senate and Governorship in 2013).

This graph shows how textbook funding has increased steadily over the last few budget cycles. There is more work to do (we need to utilize technology in the classrooms and try to reduce the costs of textbooks), but we are moving in the right direction.

Union Square Campus

It was an honor to attend the ribbon cutting ceremony for Union Square Campus in Greensboro. It is a state-of-the-art facility that provides training for health care professionals. NC A&T, UNC-G, GTCC and Cone Health worked as partners in creating the facility. The state legislature provided funding to help complete the campus, which will be an asset for higher education in our community.

This is Pat Danahy, who serves on the Board of Directors for Union Square Campus. He worked hard to make this project become a reality.

Campaign Season Approaches

Our campaign is in full gear as we approach this year's election on November 8th. I would be honored to have your support of my reelection efforts. If you wish to make a donation, you can do so on my website:

Or you can mail a donation to:

Jon Hardister for NC House
P.O. Box 4113
Greensboro, NC 27404

Thank you for your support!

Quote to Remember

"There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."
- Ernest Hemingway

Sunday, July 3, 2016

State Budget Update / Happy 4th of July!

We officially adjourned the 2016 legislative session shortly before midnight on July 1st. This concludes our legislative work for the year, unless we are called back for a special session. Otherwise, the legislature will reconvene on January 11th, 2017.

Now that our work is complete for this year, I wanted to provide you with an update on the 2016-17 budget. 

State Budget Details

On July 1st we passed the state budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. The total amount of the budget is approximately $22.3 billion. 

Here is a statement that I released in response to the passage of this year's budget:

This budget continues to move North Carolina forward as a leader in sound economic policy. Teachers in North Carolina are receiving what may be the largest pay increase of any state in the nation this year. Over the next three years, the average teacher salary in North Carolina will be nearly $55,000. 

We are also cutting taxes for everyone in North Carolina by increasing standard deductions, which will primarily benefit low-to-middle income earners. This will help to strengthen our economy and provide families with more income to invest in their future. There are also policies in the budget that will increase access to college by controlling the cost of tuition. 

This budget places an additional $473 million in our state savings account, brining the total to nearly $1.6 billion. This is revenue that will be used to help support the core functions of our government if there is an emergency, such as a recession or natural disaster. Like many people do in their personal life, it is important for our State to prepare for the future.

Spending is kept within TABOR, which means that it does not exceed the combined growth of population and inflation. This indicates that we are spending at responsible levels and that we are being careful with taxpayer dollars. I would also note that North Carolina is one of only a few states that maintain a AAA credit rating.

The fact that nearly 20 House Democrats joined the Republican majority to pass this budget shows that it is a good bipartisan plan. This is an outstanding budget for the citizens of North Carolina.

Highlights of the State Budget:

Includes a 1.5 percent permanent pay increase and 0.5 percent one-time bonus for state employees; over $80 million for merit-based bonuses; and a 1.6 percent cost of living bonus for retirees.

Invests $190 million in our teachers by providing them with an average 4.7% raise that will bring median teacher salaries to nearly $55,000 - the highest in state history. The budget also increases funding for teaching supplies, textbooks, and technology in the classrooms. 

Prepares for the future by adding an additional $473 million to our state savings account, bringing the total to an all-time high of nearly $1.6 billion. This is money that would be used to operate the state in case of an emergency.

Increases access to college by freezing tuition so that students will pay the same amount for each semester for four years at public universities. It also limits college fee increases to 3 percent per year.  

Allows for a $145 million tax cut by raising the standard deduction for all taxpayers. The first $17,500 will be exempt from taxation for a married couple and the first $8,750 will be exempted for a single filer. This will primarily benefit low-to-middle income earners.

Increases funding for Justice and Public Safety by nearly 4%. Provides funding for a desperately needed airplane used to catch criminals, extradite fugitives, and assist with drug investigations. Allocates $3.5 million to address a backlog of payment to lawyers who have represented indigent clients. 

Prioritizes mental health issues by funding the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Abuse with $20 million. The budget also appropriates $20 million from the Dorothea Dix Property Fund to increase the amount of behavioral health beds and to construct new child facility crisis centers.

Protects the environment by providing an additional $8.6 million to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and $18.8 million for water infrastructure programs. The State will also invest $3 million in new firefighting equipment to protect the land and people of North Carolina.

Supports the State's infrastructure by investing $32 million for new highway projects; $14.8 million for airport development; and $13.7 million for safety updates to our railroad system.

Improves DMV customer service by providing $5 million targeted towards call center responsiveness, which will also help to reduce wait times at DMV offices.

Budget Conferee Appointment

It was an honor to be a budget conferee who helped to achieve a final compromise between the House and Senate. Although I don't expect the media to give the legislature much credit, this is an extremely responsible budget for the citizens of North Carolina. I am proud of the bipartisan work that was done to accomplish this goal. 

Developmental Disability ID Bill 

HB 1033 - ID Card Fee Waiver / Disability - has passed the legislature and has been sent to Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. It is my honor to be the lead sponsor of this bill, which will waive the fee for a government-issued ID for those who have a developmental disability. I am currently in the process of planning a public bill signing with the Governor and families that are impacted by developmental disabilities. 

Happy Independence Day!

I want to take a moment to wish you and your family a happy and safe 4th of July. This will mark the 240th birthday of our great nation. Let us remember those who fought to secure our independence and may we never take our freedom for granted.

Have a great Independence Day weekend!

"Where liberty dwells, there is my country."
- Benjamin Franklin

More Updates Soon

I will be sure to provide you with relevant updates when they become available. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or feedback. 

Quote to Remember
"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."
- Vince Lombardi

Monday, June 27, 2016

Legislative Update - June 2016

There has been a lot of activity taking place at the legislature over the last few weeks. Our goal is to complete our work and pass a budget by the 4th of July. It looks like we are on track to make that happen.

Here is an update on recent activity.

Budget Work Continues

The House and Senate have been working to resolve differences in the state budget. We have agreed on the total amount of spending (approximately $22 billion), but we are still negotiating the final details. It appears that we are very close to reaching an agreement, and I expect we will vote on a final budget in the next few days.

Conference Committee Appointment

It was my honor to be appointed to serve on the conference committee for the state budget. This committee consists of appointments from the Speaker of the House and the Pro Tem of the Senate. Our responsibility is to reconcile differences between the House and Senate as it relates to the budget, and offer a final version for consideration to the full legislature.

State Employment Improves

The Department of Commerce has reported that North Carolina's latest unemployment rate has dropped to 5.1 percent, which shows that our economic recovery continues. This is down from a rate of 5.8 percent a year ago. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, total employment in North Carolina has increased by approximately 460,000 since this time five years ago. Our State has out-paced the national average in job creation over this period of time.

Developmental Disabilities

It is my honor to be the lead sponsor of HB 1033 - ID Card Fee Waiver / Disability - which allows a person with a developmental disability to waive the fee for a government-issued ID. The bill passed the House earlier this week on a unanimous vote and has been sent to the Senate for consideration. The idea for this legislation came from a lady who has a daughter with a developmental disability.

Higher Education Transparency

SB 536 - Students Know Before You Go and Central Residency - is making its way through the legislature. This bill requires the State Education Assistance Authority to provide information about the potential costs, benefits and consequences of obtaining certain degrees from universities and community colleges. This information will help people decide what they want to study and what kind of career they want to pursue.

Supporting Disabled Veterans

Governor Pat McCrory recently signed HB 256 - Handicap Parking / Veterans Plate - which allows disabled veterans to use handicapped parking spaces by displaying a "Partially Disabled Veteran" license plate. This is a simple provision in state law that will provide a reasonable accommodation for brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Overdose Safety

Governor Pat McCrory recently signed SB 734 - Statewide Standing Order / Opioid Antagonist - which increases access to a drug known as naloxone. This is a medication that can be used to save lives when someone is suffering from an opioid overdose. Law enforcement agencies and medical professionals across North Carolina supported the bill.

United Way of Greensboro

It was a pleasure meeting with officials from the United Way of Greensboro. They came to Raleigh to discuss the work they do to support our community.

Supporting Firefighters

It was an honor to meet with firefighters who visited the legislature to discuss issues related to public safety. I have worked with them to promote legislation that will support their profession.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity had a "Hammering Contest" at the state legislature a few weeks ago. The goal was to hammer four nails into board as quickly as possible. I didn't win, but my time of 4.25 seconds wasn't too bad.

More Updates Coming Soon
I will be sure to provide you with more updates when they are available. When the budget is passed, I will provide details and figures related to how funds are appropriated. As always, don't hesitate to contact me with questions, comments or feedback.

Quote to Remember

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started."
- Mark Twain

Monday, May 30, 2016

Happy Memorial Day / Legislative Update

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy and safe Memorial Day. Let us never forget the brave men and women who offered their life in defense of our great nation. It is their sacrifice that provides us with the freedom and liberty that we enjoy.

NC House Passes Budget

The House passed our version of the budget two weeks ago. It is a responsible budget that keeps spending at a reasonable level while providing more funding for the core services of government. Teachers would receive an average 4.1 percent pay increase as well as bonus pay that would count towards their retirement. Other state employees would receive a 2 percent pay increase along with bonus pay, and state retirees would receive a 1.6 percent COLA increase. Spending is kept within TABOR, which means that growth in spending does not out-pace changes in inflation and population.

The budget passed the House on a strong bipartisan vote of 103-12. It has now gone to the Senate, which is deliberating over the details. The Senate will soon pass the budget back to the House, and then it will likely go to conference, where conferees will be appointed to negotiate a final version.

More Tax Cuts Advanced

The House and Senate are working on a proposal that would increase the standard deduction for all taxpayers. The current standard deduction for a married couple is $15,500 and the standard deduction for an individual filer is $7,750. Current proposals would increase those amounts to $17,500 and $8,750, respectively. This would especially benefit lower-to-middle income earners.

Protecting Firefighters

It was my honor to run an amendment to the budget that added three types of cancer to line of duty death benefits for firefighters. North Carolina is one of only a few states that doesn't provide such benefits for the family of a firefighter who loses his or her life in the line of duty. This is a positive step forward in enhancing benefits for firefighters, who often risk their life to keep us safe.

Supporting Our Aviation Industry

During debate on the budget, there was an amendment offered that would have eliminated a 3 percent tax cut on the sale of air planes and boats above $50,000. If passed, this amendment would have had a negative impact on aviation companies in North Carolina, such as HondaJet. This also would have impacted boating companies that may be looking to locate in North Carolina. I responded by debating the issue and then making a motion to "lay the amendment upon the table," which passed and removed the amendment from consideration.

Unemployment Hits Eight Year Low

North Carolina's mostly recent unemployment rate, 5.4 percent, is the lowest we have had in eight years. Although there is more work to do, this indicates that the economy is continuing to recover. North Carolina has had one of the fastest rates of job-creation over the last few years. Our state GDP is strong and the private sector has been creating jobs faster than the national average.

High Business Rating

North Carolina recently ranked third for business climate in Chief Executive magazine. The magazine claimed that chief executives who "favor pro-growth, low-tax states ranked Texas, Florida and North Carolina as the best states in the U.S. for business." This is good news for our State, but you are unlikely to see this reported in the mainstream media.

Meeting with Constituents

It was an honor to meet with real estate appraisers who visited the legislature to discuss policies related to their industry. I had the privilege of running a regulatory reform bill related to their profession in last year's legislative session.

Meeting with Health Care Professionals

It was a pleasure to visit the staff at Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro. They invited me to tour their facility and learn about their operation model. I am impressed by the services they provide to our community.

Summerfield Founder's Day Parade

Earlier this month I participated in the Founder's Day Parade in Summerfield. This is a patriotic parade that celebrates the founding of the Summerfield community. I had my Ford Mustang decorated for the occasion.

More Updates Coming Soon...

As always, I will do my best to keep you updated on developments at the legislature. Our goal is to complete the current legislative session by the 4th of July holiday. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or comments.

Quote to Remember

"Today is a day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It's a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It's a day to be with the family and remember."
- President Ronald Reagan's 1986 Memorial Day speech at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

Rep. Jon Hardister

Thursday, May 12, 2016

NC House Update - May 2016

The 2016 legislative session is well underway at the NC General Assembly. We began session on April 15th. There is no set date to adjourn, but we hope to complete our work before the 4th of July holiday.

Here is an update on recent developments.

Supporting People Who Have a Developmental Disability

Last week I filed HB 1033 - ID Card Fee Waiver/Disability - which would waive the fee for a special identification card given to a person with a developmental disability. Currently, people who are legally blind, people who have become disabled, and people who are over the age of 70 are able to obtain a special ID card free-of-charge. This bill, which is supported by The Arc of North Carolina, would add people who have a developmental disability to that category.

Economic Growth in NC

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, NC has had the fastest growing economy in the nation since 2013. We have experienced a 13.4% increase in the State's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) over the last three years. NC has created more than 275,000 private sector jobs during this time period, which places our growth in job creation above the national average. The private sector has benefited from $4.4 billion in tax relief, fiscal responsibility and various regulatory reform measures.

NC Ties with Texas for the "Prosperity Cup"

Site Selection's annual competition is called the "Prosperity Cup," formerly known as the Competitiveness Award. This year NC tied for first place with Texas. The ranking is based on an index of 10 criteria that measure corporate project activity and business climate attractiveness. As NC Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III expresses, "It's our can-do attitude that shines through. That's an intangible that companies notice about our workforce and mention often."

NC Voter ID Laws

Recently, a federal court upheld NC's common sense photo voter ID law, dismissing all claims in the lawsuit filed by political opponents. In the ruling, the court agreed that, "the changes were based on legitimate and substantial concerns of election integrity and fairness and leave an electoral system that provides generous, fair, and equal opportunity for voters of all races and ages."

State Budget Deliberations Underway

Governor Pat McCrory's budget proposal for the 2016-2017 fiscal year has been released. The next step is for the NC House to pass its version of the budget, which is expected to happen next week. The NC Senate will then proceed to make amendments to the budget and discussions will ensue.

As always, the primary focus of the budget is to adequately fund the core responsibilities of government while ensuring that spending is responsible. We have agreed that there will be no tax or fee increases and that spending levels will be kept within TABOR, which means that spending growth will not out-pace increases in inflation and population. It is likely that public school teachers, public safety personnel and other state employees will see a reasonable pay increase in this year's budget.

Community Involvement with The ARC of Greensboro

It was my honor to participate in an annual event with The ARC of Greensboro called "Dancing on the Diamond." My dancing partner was Addie Sellars. We danced to the tune of Uptown Funk and won first place for "Most Entertaining Dance." The event raised over $11,000 for The ARC of Greensboro, which supports people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities.

GOPAC Chooses its 2016 Class of "Emerging Leaders"

It is my honor to be chosen to participate in GOPAC's 2016 Class of "Emerging Leaders." I am one of 26 legislators from across the country who have been chosen to attend this conference.

On its website, GOPAC describes its mission as follows:

Since 1978, GOPAC has been a force in America because we realize Republicans must champion the ideas that unite voters around a vision of creating jobs, getting government spending under control, making government more effective, and keeping America safe. This is why Republicans turn to GOPAC for coaching and best practices on effective ways to communicate conservative ideas and solutions.

It is an honor to be chosen by GOPAC to participate in the 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn new ways to enhance government efficiency in North Carolina. I look forward to meeting leaders from across the country and learning from their experience.

School Students Visit the State Capital

These are 4th grade students from Alamance Elementary School. I had the honor of giving them a tour of the legislative building. It is always great to meet with students and explain how the legislative process works.

Industries of the Blind

It was a pleasure to visit the Industries of the Blind in Winston-Salem. I was inspired by the hard work and dedication that was displayed by people who have visual impairment. They produce an impressive amount of goods for the U.S. Military.

Inspiration on the Golf Course

Recently I had the privilege of caddying for my friend Kevin Reinert, who returned to the game of golf after being struck by a car last summer. His return to the game, after suffering serious injuries, is impressive and inspirational. I was honored to be a part of this occasion at Starmount Forest County Club, which was covered by numerous media outlets.

More Updates Soon...

I will be sure to provide more updates as the 2016 legislative session continues. In the meantime, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Quote to Remember

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is always what it takes to sit down and listen."
- Winston Churchill.

Rep. Jon Hardister

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Press Release: Rep. Jon Hardister Chosen as Emerging Leader by GOPAC

April 22, 2016

For Immediate Release

Raleigh, NC - Today Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) was chosen by GOPAC to be part of their 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders. Hardister is one of 26 legislators who were chosen from across the country to participate in the program.

On its website, GOPAC describes its mission as follows:

Since 1978, GOPAC has been a force in America because we realize Republicans must champion the ideas that unite voters around a vision of creating jobs, getting government spending under control, making government more effective, and keeping America safe. This is why Republicans turn to GOPAC for coaching and best practices on effective ways to communicate conservative ideas and solutions.

GOPAC Chairman David Avella provided the following statement regarding the Emerging Leaders program: "Leaders who can successfully promote conservative principles and ideas are essential to advancing limited, effective government. Our 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders exemplifies the promising state lawmakers who will lead in their legislative chamber and/or run for higher office. Their inclusion in our programs will provide them with guidance and support to be effective legislative and political leaders."

"It is an honor to be chosen by GOPAC to participate in the 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders, "Hardister said. "This will be an excellent opportunity to learn new ways to enhance government efficiency in North Carolina. I look forward to meeting leaders from across the country and learning from their experience."

Here is a link to GOPAC webpage, which details the 2016 Class of Emerging Leaders:

Rep. Jon Hardister


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Press Release: Rep. Jon Hardister Releases Statement On the Passing of Rep. Ralph Johnson

March 16, 2016

For Immediate Release

Greensboro, NC - Today Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) released the following statement on the passing of Rep. Ralph Johnson (D-Guilford):

I am very sad to hear about the passing of Rep. Ralph Johnson. Although we were on different sides of the political aisle, we respected each other and I considered him to be a friend. He was a kind-hearted individual who cared about his constituents. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. We will miss him at the state legislature.
Rep. Jon Hardister