Senator Bill Rabon has represented North Carolina Senate District Eight since 2010--and he’s hoping to carry forth through another term. Rabon, a native of Columbus County and a current Southport veterinarian, recently told WHQR that he doesn’t want to stay in the Senate so long he wears out his welcome. However, the incumbent Republican says he’s proud of what he’s accomplished in terms of transportation and tax reform, and would like to see these matters—as well as initiatives related to job creation and education—through to completion.
WHQR's Katie O'Reilly: Tell me about your proudest accomplishments thus far.
Bill Rabon: I’d say transportation reform, or the STI, which is an initiative that Senator Harrington and I started when we were first elected, to get the politics out of the department of transportation and out of road-building, and we have done that. Governor McCrory came in and we signed, or he signed, into law the best transportation reform package we’ve had since 1989. Now all states and all work in this state, by virtue of the fact that we passed the STI, is done by a data-driven process, not by a politically-driven process.
KO: Okay, and tell me about your ideal picture of tax reform.
BR: We passed tax reform in North Carolina, as I’m sure you’re aware, in the last session. We were the only state in the United States to pass it. We brought ourselves forward from the uhh, what I call Depression-era taxes that we were paying, into the twenty-first century. And I should hope that we will move forward as we’re doing that. As you know we lowered the marginal income tax that every person in North Carolina pays that has a paycheck, from a maximum of 7.75 to 5.85 and it will go on down to 5.75 percent, and in doing that we in essence put in a flat tax, so that every person pays the same, and that every person in this state who gets a paycheck has more money in their paycheck. So that was nice. At the same time we lowered our corporate taxes, which were the highest in the Southeast. And those are now competitive, and will be even more competitive with all our neighbors in the Southeast. And that should attract more industry and create jobs, which it has done.
KO: You’re saying this has directly spurred job creation?
BR: Indeed. Indeed; even the naysayers have had to admit it. In March, we created thousands of new jobs and we have every month. And we will continue to do that; that is the priority.
KO: And in terms of education reform, how do you feel about Governor McCrory’s recent move to raise beginning teachers’—and only beginning teachers’—salaries?
BR: I think that’s a start. I would like to see all teachers—I would like to see all state employees, for that matter—have an increase in salary. Hopefully we can get there; it’s gonna take revenue reform, or tax reform, to do that. It’s going to take a change in the way the state does business to do that. The conundrum is, where do we get the money? Fifty-six cents or so out of every dollar that is spent in Raleigh now goes to education. Maybe we’re spending that fifty-six cents in the wrong place. Maybe the legislature should step back, and look at the forest, and stop looking at the tree, and say a dedicated portion of that money must go to teacher salary. And give a little more direction, if you will, to those people that are spending the money that the taxpayers are sending to us. The legislature doesn’t spend the money; we allocate the money. Maybe we should give them a little more direction.
KO: You caught a lot of flack earlier this year for your outspoken, and profane, opposition to the puppy mill bill. What do you have to say to constituents who were upset?
BR: It was just not—it is just not—a good piece of legislation. There were members and there are member of the senate who are trying to work on a better piece of legislation, and for whatever reason, some groups did not want that. It was sort of “I want my ice cream now or I’m gonna throw a fit.” You know, there are no puppy mills in Brunswick County. But there are a thousand and seven abused children. Where are the advocates for those abused children? You’re talking to one of them. Where are the advocates for the pets? You’re talking to one of them. But I don’t have to get out and march and raise a banner; I just do my job.
KO: Senator Rabon, thank you for joining us today.
BR: Thank you!
Senator Bill Rabon is one of three candidates vying for his own seat in North Carolina Senate District Eight. He’ll face off against one of two potential Democratic challengers in November. Winning would mean a third term for Rabon, a Republican and Southport veterinarian. The incumbent says he’s proud of what he’s already accomplished, particularly in terms of tax reform and transportation initiatives. And Rabon believes he’s also constituents’ most pragmatic choice--as he’s got the majority party on his side.
If re-elected, Senator Rabon says he plans to champion lower corporate taxes, higher teacher pay, better film incentives, improved transportation infrastructure, and more jobs in Southeastern North Carolina. And he believes that he’s much better poised to accomplish this--or anything else--than any of his fellow candidates are.
"For someone to think, as a member of the minority party, that they can accomplish much, is a pipe dream. They’re going to have to play on our team if they want to get a home run, and I’m on the right team right now. Timing is everything. It’s not politics; it’s timing. It’s, you know, here you are, at what time in your life. I happen to be in the right place at the right time, and I’m happy to be there, and I want to be there a little while longer."
Rabon, however, says he doesn’t want to stay in office too long. He adds that his political ambitions extend no further than serving the citizens of District Eight for a few more years.