RALEIGH: NC Budget Director Art Pope resigns - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

NC Budget Director Art Pope resigns

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Gov. Pat McCarory announces Art Pope's resignation at state budget director. Gov. Pat McCarory announces Art Pope's resignation at state budget director.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that state budget director Art Pope has resigned. Pope will be succeeded by North Carolina Banking Commission member Lee Roberts.

Pope, a leader of the conservative movement and a prominent Raleigh businessman, agreed to be budget director under McCrory, but McCrory said Wednesday that Pope agreed to do it for only one year.

"Art Pope has been an invaluable public servant for the people of North Carolina," McCrory said. "His knowledge and leadership helped produce historic tax reform while producing two balanced budgets that put North Carolina back on the road to prosperity."

Pope was a key part of McCrory's transition team as McCrory prepared to be governor. McCrory said he didn't know Pope until getting to know him as part of the transition and he had strong words in Pope's defense.

"He was nothing like the caricature or portrait I had read about as mayor of Charlotte," McCrory said.

After that, McCrory said, "I knew that he had to become a apart of this administration."

"To my surprise, he said, 'Absolutely, I'd be honored to take on that responsibility -- if I could do two things,' " McCrory recalled.

McCrory said Pope asked to work for $1, and that he would only do it for one year.

"I said, 'You have a deal,' " McCrory said. "That's a pretty good deal -- $1 for one year."

McCrory said Pope was ready to move on after one year, but McCrory insisted that he remain through the short session and the budget, and Pope agreed.

Pope said he would remain on the job until Sept. 5.

"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the state of North Carolina," Pope said.

Pope said the time commitment "was far more than I thought, even after the legislature went out of session last year.

"And I do have major family commitments. I have major commitments to my business. So, it was primarily a time commitment."

McCrory also became emotional talking about how Pope continued to work hard on the budget even though Pope's mother became sick and died during the budget process.

"I kept telling him, 'Go home, go home, go home,' " McCrory said.

McCrory said Pope gave the budget announcement even on the day his mother died.

"That is a true human being and public servant," McCrory said.

Roberts is is banking executive from Raleigh who recently worked as managing director of Piedmont Community Bank Holdings and chief operating officer at VantageSouth Bank. He is the son of political commentator Cokie Roberts.

"Lee has a terrific sense of fiscal sensibility and responsibility, and I'm excited to have him join our team," McCrory said. "North Carolina state government will thrive under his oversight. His experience in the global marketplace will provide a useful and original perspective, and his leadership skills will further our administration's goal of thoughtful, deliberate stewardship of taxpayer dollars."

McCrory appointed Roberts to the N.C. Banking Commission in 2013.

Reaction from N.C. lawmakers

"I want to personally thank Art for his public service and years of dedication to the state of North Carolina. I appreciate his leadership working closely with the General Assembly to improve the state's economy, create balanced budgets and promote jobs in our state. North Carolina's economy is better today than when he started." - House Speaker Thom Tills

"My Senate colleagues and I are grateful that Art Pope continued his service to North Carolina by agreeing to serve as budget director -- one of the most difficult and thankless jobs in state government -- for a salary of only one dollar. Thanks to his countless volunteer hours, our state is moving in a far more fiscally sound and sustainable direction. We appreciate Art's guidance and devotion to improving North Carolina, and we wish him well in his future endeavors -- which we hope and trust will include remaining involved in public service." - Senate Leader Phil Berger

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