Burlington Times-News -
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton talked education and jobs during a quick stop in Burlington Tuesday to discuss his campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor.
Dalton made several Triad appearances, including a meeting at the Times-News. Figures released this week by Public Policy Polling indicate Dalton’s campaign is on the upswing as the Tuesday election nears and he leads all other Democratic candidates. The poll shows Dalton leads with 36 percent compared to his closest Democratic rival Bob Etheridge with 26 percent.
“I hope the polling is right,” Dalton said. “The real poll is on May 8. We feel really good about what we are seeing.”
According to Public Policy Polling, Dalton has gone from 15 percent to 36 percent in the last three polls conducted by the agency. Etheridge has remained between 25 percent and 26 percent during the same period.
Dalton said Tuesday that he would continue to work during his primary campaign to share his visions for job creation and education.
“It’s about jobs now and jobs in the future,” Dalton said. “I’m going to keep talking about jobs and education.”
Dalton said he believes that North Carolina is beginning to come out of its economic downturn but is in danger of falling behind other states in the region if legislators decide to approve deeper cuts in education and economic development programs in 2012 and beyond.
“It’s a critical time to make decisions to move forward,” Dalton said.
Dalton said he believes that the Triad is in a position to spur additional job growth because of its logistical capabilities and will play a pivotal role in economic development efforts from Raleigh to Atlanta during the next 40 years because of its railroad and interstate network system.
“We want to see the state grow and flourish its economy.” Dalton said. “If we cut education and economic development too deep, we will hurt our future.”
Dalton said he supports Gov. Bev Perdue’s proposal to restore the sales tax three quarters of a cent temporarily in 2012 to shore up the state’s budget. Republican legislators let the penny sales tax increase approved by Perdue and Democrats in 2009 expire last year.
Dalton also said the state must work to build more public-private partnerships between businesses and education by refocusing, retraining and recruiting new employees that have the job skills to meet employers’ expectations.
“There is a disconnect between the skills of students coming out of college and the skills we need to really do our jobs,” Dalton said.
The state’s Early College High School system has helped train a viable workforce and is a model for the nation to follow, Dalton said.
Dalton said the state should also work toward leveraging its intellectual property for economic gain and further develop its seven economic regions. The General Assembly’s recent 16 percent cut for the state’s public university system didn’t help promote advances with intellectual property statewide, Dalton said.
Increasing the state’s role in the development of bio-tech businesses should also be encouraged because these types of businesses provide a broad spectrum of jobs from manufacturing to research, said Dalton.
Dalton served from 1997 to 2003 as state senator for the 37th District, having served six terms. Dalton was elected lieutenant governor in 2008.