Why Sen. Berger's opening speech missed the mark | Eastern North Carolina Now

By:  Andrew Dunn

As Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger struck the gavel on the opening day of the long session, he painted a rosy picture of North Carolina and his party’s work to transform it.

“Over the last 12 years and following the simple formula of lower taxes, less regulation, and a commitment to quality education, our state has flourished,” he told the chamber, according to a copy of his prepared remarks. “North Carolina regularly ranks as a top state for business and jobs. We continue to recruit and attract a wide variety of employers and entrepreneurs to the state.”

The job now, he said, is to build on that success — continuing to lower taxes, repeal regulations and invest in infrastructure.

He’s right, of course. But he’s also dead wrong.

Before we start in, it’s important to recognize how things were in North Carolina before the GOP took control of the General Assembly. In his speech, Berger noted that the state faced a recession-induced $2.5 billion deficit and had laid off hundreds of teachers and government workers. Today, North Carolina has built up a multi-billion-dollar reserve fund that will help the state weather the next economic downturn, whether that comes in 2023 or later down the line.

The state’s personal income tax rate stood at 7.75% on families earning $60,000 or more, one of the highest tax burdens in the country. This year, it will be 4.75%, allowing workers to keep significantly more money in their pockets.

New charter schools were essentially banned, due to a cap of 100 set by the Democratic majority. Now charter schools are flourishing across the state, giving parents more choices in education. Low-income parents also have access to scholarship programs that allow their children to attend a high-quality charter school.

The state is undoubtedly better. And yet.

Berger’s sanguine demeanor feels out of place in today’s North Carolina. Two out of three North Carolinians believe the country is on the wrong track, and that’s the most optimistic data point in recent months. Another two-thirds believe the state's education system needs changes, even major ones.

It’s an anxious time in America and in North Carolina. Families worry about inflation eating up their paychecks, illegal drugs poisoning their communities, hollowed-out job markets limiting their prospects, incompetent bureaucrats who fail to deliver basic government services, and opaque school systems pursuing their own ideologies while failing to teach students reading and math.

The state isn’t crying out for lower taxes and less regulation, though we’re happy to have them. We’re looking for leaders who will stand athwart the national morass and carve out an oasis of sanity and success.

This is the appeal of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who just won re-election by historic margins in a state that was even more purple than North Carolina only a few years ago. He casts himself as a foil against Washington not just for his own future political aspirations, but also because it’s what his constituents want. This approach is summed up well in DeSantis’s second inaugural address delivered earlier this month. It’s short and worth the read. A selection:

“Over the past few years, as so many states in our country grinded their citizens down, we in Florida lifted our people up. When other states consigned their people’s freedom to the dustbin, Florida stood strongly as freedom’s linchpin.

When the world lost its mind – when common sense suddenly became an uncommon virtue – Florida was a refuge of sanity, a citadel of freedom for our fellow Americans and even for people around the world.”

How? Tax cuts and regulation reductions, to be sure. But also by standing up to corporate interests, battling radical ideology in schools and opposing national mandates, among numerous other legislative victories.

To be fair to Berger, a governor has a much stronger position to deliver a message like this than even a powerful state Senate president. But the state as a whole is looking for leadership that recognizes the zeitgeist and responds to it.

This is Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s path to the Executive Mansion. If he can stay focused on the issues that matter, project competence and promise results, he has a chance to win — and take the mantle of the state’s most powerful Republican from Phil Berger.

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( January 16th, 2023 @ 8:25 am )
The real problem is that Phil Berger is OWNED by those woke corporations. He is showing it right now in trying to advance the major national and state Democrat priority of Obamacare Medicaid excpansion. Berger is doing that because he is captured by the liberal special interests, in this case, Big Medicine, and he is totally comfortable with giving Roy Cooper the biggest thing he has wanted since he became governor. Berger is willing to give a massive boost to Cooper's national political ambitions because it is what the "woke" special interests also want.

This is not the first time Phil Berger has sold out Republican voters to the "woke" liberal special interests. He did it last year to give Roy Cooper another of Cooper's big wishes, the NC Green New Deal, That also involved being a shill for "woke" special interests, in that case the very "woke" utility monopoly Duke Enegery plus the wind and solar grifters. This bill, HB951, royally screws NC electric ratepayers and represents following the Biden energy playbook and throwing away the Trump energy playbook.

Then there was the sellout to the LGBTQ crowd in repealing the bathroom privacy law, HB 2, another big demand of Roy Cooper. Berger sold his soul to the "woke" corporations demanding that we bow down to their radical gender ideology. The special interewsts wanted it, so Berger complied.

Berger is a political whore for the special interests, not a conservative. He is as bad as Marc Basnight was, and is the local equivalent of sell-ou Mitch McConnell in the US Senate. Undoubtedly, Berger has been well paid by the special interests for turning tricks for them in the legislature. He ought to mount a red light avove his office door in Raleigh.

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