[media-credit name=”Lori Millberg” align=”alignright” width=”183″][/media-credit]Lori Millberg ― NC State House District 35
Political Party: Democrat
How long in district: Moved to Wendell Oct. 1985
Occupation: Former Assistant District Attorney; Manages husband’s law firm
The economy is at the top of voter’s minds this year. What do you think elected officials can actually do to address it?
I believe that jobs are our first priority. All of us know people who are out of work or who have been out of work; they’ve worked their whole lives. They want to work. I think there’s a false notion out there that people who are out there unemployed, choose to be unemployed. I just don’t think that’s true. I definitely think it’s a top priority and that it’s important that the legislature make it a top priority. I’m concerned that the legislature in the past couple years has spent too much time worrying what’s going on in people’s bedrooms, instead of job creating.
I think it takes a multi-prong approach. I have a three-step plan. There are a couple things we can do. The first thing is we can give North Carolina companies the first crack at state contracts. I think that we should consider tax credits to encourage companies to hire North Carolinians. I think we need to continue to strengthen the link between small businesses and community colleges so that they can tailor their curriculum to make sure we are generating graduates with the skills that they need to support and grow those businesses.
Those are all important parts of jobs but I also think that education is really key. When I was on the school board I had the chance to travel on a couple of inner-city visits hosted by the Raleigh Chamber. We were briefed regularly by the chamber and they always said, when businesses are looking for where to locate their first question is, how are the schools? So I’m very concerned that in North Carolina education has become a decreasing part of the budget and we’re now 45th in the nation in funding our public schools. I don’t think we’ve seen an immediate downturn in scores and that kind of thing, but I think it’ll happen. I think a lot of the successes today are because of investments made 10 and 20 years ago.
Why should your constituents choose you in this election?
Because I’m a public servant. Because I’m for real. I care very deeply about North Carolina. My roots here go way back. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just going to represent longtime North Carolinians. I would represent every citizen. I care very deeply that we protect these important resources like our schools. It’s not just because I love schools. It’s not just because I want it for the kids. It’s because it’s so important for the future prosperity of North Carolina.
I see this nation that is getting ready to recover from a deep recession. It’s kind of like the starting line of a race and all 50 states are standing there with our nation getting ready to recover. I hope and pray that this election behind us will really either way, help that recovery get going.
What do you think of the state’s new fracking law and how do you think it should be implemented?
I’m not going to claim to be an expert, but from what I’ve been able to find out, I feel like it was a little bit of a rush to judgment. I just don’t understand the importance of “let’s just go ahead and pass it and then we’ll worry about how we can do it safely and how we can protect water and whose going to do it.” That doesn’t make any sense to me. Why don’t we assemble the panel and the experts and find out how it can be done safely and what regulations need to be in place, before we decide where to go on fracking … I was also very concerned about the people they selected to oversee that, because it’s clearly not a balanced panel. It’s clearly tilted to not having a good representative sample of folks that have deep concerns.
In a recent Supreme Court ruling, the court gave states the option of expanding the Medicaid program to cover many low-income adults, and the federal government will be paying for the bulk of the expansion. What, if anything, do you think North Carolina should do about expanding Medicaid?
I think any government needs to be concerned about the number of senior citizens that cannot afford medical care and cannot afford their medication. We really have people that are choosing between food and medicine. My parents are both in their 80s and in very poor health. I don’t pay their bills, but I see what they are and it’s staggering. My father retired from AT&T. He had a good retirement and medical plan. They’re very lucky.
But there are so many families doing without … I just can’t imagine how families can begin to cope with the astronomical medical bills of our seniors without any help. Definitely, I think it’s something we would need to look at. Without seeing all of the pieces and the costs and everything, I can’t say one way or the other that I would vote for something or not vote for something. I’m not one of those people that thinks if it comes from the federal government it’s free. It’s not free. We’re still paying for that, too. I’m not just going to rush into it because it’s going to come out of our federal taxes instead of our state taxes.