Gov Cooper Office of Public Engagement 3/17/23

Posted in: Madison Park

Dear Friends, 


I hope my message finds you and your family healthy and well.

Happy Women’s History Month!

North Carolina is proud to be home to a diverse population of dedicated women who serve the state, break through stereotypes, and move toward equity.

The 2023 national theme for Women’s History Month is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories”. The 2023 proclamation Governor Cooper signed on February 23rd in preparation for the month encourages the North Carolina community to honor prominent women storytellers in North Carolina’s history. The Office of the Governor honors and pays tribute to the many women, past and present, who have shaped North Carolina through all forms of media and storytelling.

Such women who should be honored and celebrated are Jaki Shelton Green, the first African American and third woman to be appointed as the North Carolina Poet Laureate, Pam Grier, considered cinema’s first female action star, Kellie Pickler, award-winning country music songwriter and vocalist, Beverly McIver, who examines racial, gender, and social identities through the lens of her own experience as an African American female artist, and so many more.

2023 also marks the 60th Anniversary of the North Carolina Council for Women and Youth Involvement! This agency is charged with advancing and protecting the rights of women, providing a voice of influence on issues impacting women, and celebrating women’s achievements and leadership throughout the state. To learn more about the Council and to read their four installments of the Status of Women in North Carolina reports, which cover important issues impacting North Carolinian women, please visit their homepage on the DOA website.

The Office of Governor Cooper is honored to celebrate the legacy of women in every race, class, and ethnic background who changed the world and our state in countless recorded and unrecorded ways. 

Please share our newsletter so your friends and family can stay up to date with the latest news, information, and resources relevant to the Cooper Administration. 


Emma Hubacher


Office of the Governor


Happy Women's History Month!


March 20th is

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a day to address the impact of HIV on American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to encourage HIV testing, prevention, and treatment in Native communities.


Governor Cooper Proclaims Women's History Month 2023

“We’ll keep working to ensure that women have equal access to opportunities, pay and respect for their contributions.” – Governor Cooper via Twitter 


Governor Cooper Proclaims March 14, 2023, as Equal Pay Day

Governor Cooper has proclaimed March 14, 2023, as Equal Pay Day to recognize the unfair wage gap that continues to hurt women workers, especially women of color. Let's continue our work to eliminate the gender wage gap!

Read the Proclamation.


Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order to Emphasize Skills, Experience in State Hiring

“You don’t necessarily need to have a degree to be great at your job and NC is in need of talented people who can get things done. The order makes it clear that we recognize the value of work experience and don’t want the lack of higher education to be a barrier to a state career.” – Governor Cooper via Twitter

On Monday, March 13th, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 278 to encourage more North Carolinians to apply for state jobs and to help state government recruit additional skilled workers.

The Order directs the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) in coordination with Cabinet agencies to take a series of steps to help more people with relevant work experience and skills to get state jobs without an academic degree. This Executive Order comes at a time when many state agencies continue to face challenges recruiting and retaining the skilled workforce essential to ensuring North Carolinians have safe, effective, and efficient government programs and services.

“You don’t necessarily need to have a degree to be great at your job and North Carolina is in need of talented people who can get things done,” Governor Cooper said. “This order makes it clear that we recognize the value of work experience and don’t want the lack of higher education to be a barrier to starting or advancing in a state career.”

Under this Executive Order, a statement will be added to state job postings clarifying that directly related experience can serve as a substitute to education for most state jobs. OSHR and Cabinet agencies will review job classifications that do not currently allow experience to substitute for education to determine whether a degree is actually required to do the work. State HR experts will also work directly with Cabinet agencies to eliminate unnecessary management preferences for degrees in the hiring process that can add higher education requirements for jobs that do not otherwise need them. Currently, approximately 75% of state job classifications either do not require a higher education degree or allow experience to be substituted for education.

Governor Cooper encourages all state, county, and local government agencies as well as private employers to review their human resources policies to eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment.

Read the full press release.

Read EO 278 in full here.


Governor Cooper Signs Executive Order Establishing State Office of Violence Prevention

Office will coordinate with state and local leaders to reduce violence and increase public safety.

On Tuesday March 14th, Governor Roy Cooper announced the creation of a statewide Office of Violence Prevention that will be located in the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. By coordinating efforts across state agencies and partnering with local leaders, the new office will focus on reducing violence and firearm misuse in North Carolina.

"All of us deserve to feel safe in our homes, our schools and our communities,” Governor Cooper said. “This new office will help coordinate the efforts to reduce violent crime, tackle both intentional and careless gun injuries and deaths, and work to keep people safe.”

The Office will work closely with other state agencies, including the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, to ensure a whole of government and public health approach to reducing violence. The Office will offer training and technical assistance, issue best practice guidance and model processes, facilitate information sharing across state and local leaders working to reduce violence, conduct public awareness campaigns, share data, collaborate with research institutions, and identify and apply for funding from federal and philanthropic sources.

The creation of the Office of Violence Prevention is part of Governor Cooper’s ongoing commitment to reducing violence and promoting public safety in North Carolina. The Governor has launched a public education campaign to encourage firearm safe storage, vetoed bills that would weaken our background check system and harm public safety and called for common sense legislation like extreme risk protective orders to prevent future tragedies. In 2019, the Governor directed state agencies to take increased action on closing crime reporting gaps between state and federal agencies. The Governor’s budget proposal will be released in the coming days and will include investments in school and community safety, including the Office of Violence Prevention.

“Partnerships are key to public safety,” said Secretary of the Department of Public Safety Eddie Buffaloe. “This new office will increase our capacity to support our local partners and I look forward to our strengthened collaboration. This office fulfills a recommendation made by the Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice to support local efforts to develop violence prevention programs.”

“Violence doesn’t just damage those who are directly impacted – it can be traumatic to the entire community,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “We can help break these devastating cycles of violence by investing in our communities, taking some common sense gun violence prevention measures, and strengthening partnerships between law enforcement and the people they serve.”

Read more about the Office of Violence Prevention here.


Governor Cooper Delivers State of the State Address

"Our moment to build enduring prosperity is now. North Carolina is ready.” - RC

On Monday March 6th, Governor Roy Cooper delivered his fourth State of the State address. He emphasized the pivotal nature of this moment that has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity for historic investments in education, infrastructure, the economy and the workforce. 

Governor Cooper underscored North Carolina’s economic success, including being named the #1 state for business in 2022. He used clean energy as just one example where North Carolina’s forward-looking approach has brought good jobs.

The Governor also touted the bipartisan accomplishments of state leaders and thanked members of both parties for their work to reach a Medicaid expansion agreement. He highlighted federal resources that have enabled North Carolina to invest more than $2 billion in connecting every house to high-speed internet and another $2 billion in updating outdated water infrastructure.

Governor Cooper announced that he will be releasing a comprehensive mental health plan in the coming days. In addition, the Governor previewed his budget that “gives teachers and principals double digit raises, it keeps the buses running, it helps kids with special needs, it keeps schools safe, it does not raise taxes and it balances the budget.”

“Time and again, overcoming adversity, our leaders had the foresight and the resolve to invest in new ideas that have revolutionized our state, impacting the generations that followed,” said Governor Cooper. “And while we stand on their shoulders, we also stand at an altogether new crossroads. One that demands we have the same clarity of purpose, the same innovation, the same determination that brought us here. Our moment to build enduring prosperity is now. And I know that North Carolina is ready.”

This was Governor Cooper’s fourth State of the State Address. Read more about the guests recognized in the Governor’s address here.




Governor Cooper Releases Proposed Budget, First in Opportunity

"This plan builds on the state’s success and “once-in-a-generation” opportunity by investing in North Carolina families, businesses, and communities. It is that unlimited potential that makes North Carolina First in Opportunity. With these historic investments now in our communities, in our people and in our future, we can ensure that everyone has access to the exceptional opportunity to thrive." - Governor Cooper via Twitter

On Wednesday, March 15th, Governor Roy Cooper released his recommended budget for FY 2023-2025, First in Opportunity. The plan put forth by the Governor builds on the state’s success and “once-in-a-generation” opportunity by investing in North Carolina families, businesses, and communities.

The budget includes an average 18% teacher raise over the biennium, a $1 billion plan to support mental health, the largest investment in state employee compensation in 50 years and critical funding for child care, job training, and economic development. First in Opportunity is a responsible, balanced budget that does not raise taxes for North Carolinians while maintaining almost $7 billion in reserves in case of a potential downturn.

“We are at a historic moment with unprecedented opportunity to make ‘once-in-a-generation’ investments in our future,” said Governor Cooper. “North Carolina has built on our success to strengthen our place as first in opportunity, and we will continue that growth only by making sound investments in our families, workforce, schools and communities. Let’s take advantage of our unlimited potential to make sure every North Carolinian can thrive.”

Read the full press release here.

Read the full budget recommendation here.


Governor Cooper Issues Statement on Medicaid Expansion

On Thursday, March 2, 2023, Governor Roy Cooper issued the following statement:

"An agreement by legislative leaders to expand Medicaid in North Carolina is a monumental step that will save lives and I commend the hard work that got us here. Since we all agree this is the right thing to do, we should make it effective now to make sure we leverage the money that will save our rural hospitals and invest in mental health. I look forward to reviewing the details of the bill."


Governor Cooper Highlights a $110 Million Grant to Replace the Alligator River Bridge and Increase High Speed Internet Access

Governor Cooper, Federal Highway Administrator (FHWA) Shailen Bhatt and N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Secretary Eric Boyette highlighted a recent $110 million federal grant at the Alligator River Marina in Columbia on March 9th, 2023. This funding, announced in January, will be critical to helping the state replace the Alligator River Bridge, a span vital to residents and travelers on North Carolina’s coast.

“Strong communities require strong investments in infrastructure,” Governor Cooper said. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this funding will help replace the Alligator River Bridge and increase high speed internet access, making our eastern counties more accessible and strengthening North Carolina for generations to come."

The project will replace the current Lindsay B. Warren Bridge, a two-lane, 2.8-mile swing span, with a two-lane high-rise bridge. The new bridge will be higher and wider than the current span, enabling boats and vehicular traffic to move without any interruption. Currently, more than 4,000 boats pass through the area each year, forcing vehicle traffic to stop while the swing span opens and closes. Also, the 60-year-old swing span occasionally experiences electrical or mechanical issues that can cause the bridge to get stuck for hours or even days. If the bridge is stuck in the open position, vehicular traffic must take a detour of more than 90 miles. If it’s stuck in the closed position, maritime traffic must use the Pamlico Sound as a detour.

The new bridge is expected to cost $294 million. The funding estimate also includes the cost to install broadband between I-95 in Rocky Mount and N.C. 12 in Nags Head, an area historically underserved by internet access.

The N.C. Department of Transportation applied for the federal grant in May. The new bridge will include 65 feet of clearance over the channel and will have 8-foot shoulders and railings of 4.5 feet. The current span has one-foot shoulders and a railing of 2-feet-10 inches.

The state agency has completed the environmental document and is working on completing right of way plans and acquisition. The final bridge design is expected to be complete this fall. NCDOT expects to begin the bidding process in 2024 with construction starting later that year. 


Governor Cooper Releases Roadmap for $1 Billion in Behavioral Health and Resilience Investments Comprehensive Plan Outlining Three Areas for Major Investments

Governor Cooper and NC DHHS released a comprehensive plan to invest $1 billion in addressing North Carolina’s mental health and substance use crisis, including anxiety and depression rates that have almost quadrupled, overdose deaths that have jumped 72 percent and youth suicide rates that have doubled.

“Our mental health system is under significant stress and in need of major investments to make sure every family, student and North Carolinian can get critical care,” said Governor Cooper. “This plan tackles the ongoing mental health crisis in a direct and meaningful way by investing in the whole-person health of North Carolinians. It will empower workplaces, schools, and local governments in search of more ways to help their communities and most importantly, it will save lives.”

The plan outlines three areas for investment in the continuum of behavioral health care: making behavioral health services more available when and where people need them; building strong systems to support people in crisis and people with complex behavioral needs; and enabling better health access and outcomes with data and technology. Woven throughout the plan are elements to support the behavioral health workforce, which is critical to the plan’s success.

In the State of the State address on March 6 before a joint session of the North Carolina General Assembly, Governor Cooper highlighted the importance of investing in mental health. The Governor’s budget proposal will be released in the coming days and will include the investments detailed in the Mental Health Plan.

 “Our behavioral health system has been under-resourced for decades, and this plan begins to address these long-standing needs,” said NCDHHS Kody H. Kinsley. “Behavioral health is key to health. This investment will ensure that every child and adult in North Carolina can get the help or treatment that they need, when and where they need it.”

The key investments detailed in the report break down as follows:

Make behavioral health services more available when and where people need them.

  • Raise Medicaid reimbursement rates for behavioral health services ($225 million) – Reimbursement rates have not been updates since 2013 and do not reflect the current cost of providing care. This means medical practitioners don’t have enough to cover costs and may have to close.
  • Improve access to routine, integrated care in communities and schools ($175 million) – Invest in behavioral health alongside physical health services provided through primary care, schools and clinics. Educate the public to reduce stigma of mental health treatment.
  • Address the intersection of the behavioral health and justice systems ($150 million) – Help those leaving jails transition back to the community, increase jail-based programs that restore mental capacity for trial, and provide resources to judges who determine when other services may help.

Build strong systems to support people in crisis and people with complex needs.

  • Build a strong statewide behavioral health crisis system ($200 million) – Housing supports, mobile crisis teams, and better services in drop-in clinics are among the recommendations in this section.
  • Transform child welfare and family well-being ($100 million) – Safe and stable homes are needed when children with complex behavioral needs enter child welfare services. Community supports and foster homes are critical.
  • Create sustainable hospitalization and step-down options ($100 million) – Demands for in-patient treatment are higher, while staffing has reduced the number of available beds. In addition to supporting the workforce, step down facilities will open more beds, delivering urgently needed care more quickly.
  • Enable better health access and outcomes with data and technology ($50 million) – Telehealth in rural communities, better tracking for psychiatric beds, and increasing use of electronic health records will help give North Carolinians seamless access to behavioral health treatment.

The plan is available online here.



If you or someone in your family has NC Health Choice, you’re moving to Medicaid on April 1! NC Health Choice beneficiaries will receive more benefits under Medicaid. No enrollment fees or copays and other new benefits.

To learn more, visit NC Health Choice Move to Medicaid | NC Medicaid (


Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein File Amicus Brief in Partisan Gerrymandering Case

On March 3rd, Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein filed an amicus brief in the partisan gerrymandering case currently before the North Carolina Supreme Court for a rehearing after the Court’s composition changed in January. The brief urges the Court to leave in place its rulings from February and December 2022, which correctly recognized that North Carolina’s constitution guarantees the right to vote on equal terms and that electoral maps adopted by Republican legislators in 2021 are unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. The newly constituted Supreme Court agreed to rehear the case in February at the request of Republican legislative leaders.

“The Court should reject this shameless partisan effort to overturn Supreme Court decisions that protect the ability of voters to fairly select their representatives in our democracy,” said Governor Cooper. “Nothing has changed in this case but the partisan composition of the Court. The meaning of our Constitution does not change when the justices do.”

“There is nothing more fundamental to our democracy than the right to vote and to have that vote matter,” said North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. “Partisan gerrymandering was wrong and unlawful when the Supreme Court ruled on this case last year, and it remains wrong and unlawful today. North Carolina’s constitution makes clear that all of the power belongs to the people, and that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. I urge the Court to not take the extraordinary step of overruling its previous decision and instead respect the rule of law by reaffirming that partisan gerrymandering violates our constitution and undermines our democracy.”

Governor Cooper and Attorney General Stein’s brief explains that granting Republican legislators’ request to overturn the Court’s recent decisions would be unprecedented in the Court’s history, contrary to the Court’s rules, and undermine the stability and legitimacy of the rule of law. The brief explains that “our State’s elected representatives cannot be allowed to entrench themselves in power by manipulating district lines to insulate themselves from popular will.” The Supreme Court’s 2022 decisions “ensure that partisan gerrymandering does not fatally undermine the power of North Carolinians to govern themselves.” 


Governor Cooper Asks NC Congressional Delegation for Recurring Child Care Funds 

“Getting children the strong, early start they need is critical. Recurring federal investment in quality child care will protect our children, our economy and our workforce.” – Governor Cooper via Twitter 

Governor Roy Cooper directed a letter to North Carolina’s congressional delegation on Tuesday asking for long-term, recurring child care funding “to keep our children learning and our economy growing.”

“Thank you for the critical one-time funding during the pandemic but, as it ends, it’s important to know that the need is urgent,” Cooper wrote in a letter to Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Ted Budd, R-N.C., and the 14 members of the state’s delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Congress sent $805 million in child care stabilization funds to North Carolina in 2021 through the American Rescue Plan to support programs struggling from pandemic costs, enrollment dips, and teacher turnover. The state Division of Child Development and Early Education (DCDEE) has spent more than $742 million of that funding to support 4,327 child care programs and 41,663 child care teachers, according to DCDEE dashboards on the payments and their impact.

DCDEE added $150 million from another federal relief allocation last fall to extend those payments in smaller increments. All of the funding will run out this year, according to DCDEE.

“Our under-resourced child care system is strained to its breaking point,” Cooper wrote in the letter. “Many child care centers are struggling to keep their doors open, and many child care teachers have left the field.”

Read the EdNC full article here.


Governor Cooper Speaks at the 48th Annual American Indian Unity Conference

“Diversity is our strength” – RC  

On March 10th, Governor Cooper spoke at the 48th annual American Indian Unity Conference to increase awareness of American Indian issues, to celebrate the traditional and contemporary history of American Indians in North Carolina, and to promote resources, American Indian Heritage, and opportunities beneficial to the American Indian population.

The 2023 NC Indian Unity Conference was a collaboration between the United Tribes of NC and the NC Department of Administration.

United Tribes of North Carolina (UTNC) is a nonprofit corporation established in 1982 to provide greater coordination and unity among the American Indian tribes and organizations of the State of North Carolina. UTNC works to promote educational, economic, religious, charitable, and cultural activities for American Indian people.

Department of Administration Secretary Pamela Cashwell addressing the audience at the NC Indian Unity Conference, held at the North Raleigh Hilton Hotel. 



More than 600,000 NC households are now participating in the US Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program to save $30/month on high-speed internet. Households may qualify by income, participation in government assistance programs or other options. Learn more and apply here.



It’s time for the annual Fight the Bite poster contest through NC DHHS! NC students can submit artwork by April 10th.











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