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RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Art Pope, who has been a lightning rod of criticism within state government’s highest ranks, is stepping down as Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget director.

McCrory made the announcement this afternoon in Raleigh. The governor lauded Pope with a special proclamation for his service to the state.

“Art has been the the voice of reason and conservative common sense,” McCrory said.

The governor said Pope accepted his offer to serve as budget director under two conditions: He would work for just one year and be paid just $1. Pope, widely criticized for his conservative influence in the state, agreed to stay in the job when McCrory asked him to stay on through the General Assembly’s Short Session, which just wrapped up. Pope today said he will stay in the position through Sept. 5.

The governor said he plans to sign the budget passed during the Short Session this week.

McCrory announced Raleigh banker Lee Roberts, the son of newswoman Cokie Roberts, will succeed Pope as state budget director. McCrory described Lee Roberts as “a fresh voice” in his administration.

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