Senate update from Phil Berger

Republicans Senators this week showed we’re serious about balancing next year’s budget in a way that helps the private sector and minimizes harm to school teachers and state workers.

The House and Senate both passed a bill that saves as much as $400 million this year, and gives the governor the authority to cut another $400 million. With the state facing a multi-billion dollar deficit next year, the Balanced Budget Act of 2011 would help ease the pain ahead.

These cuts don’t hurt our school teachers or rank-and-file state employees, yet our Democratic colleagues have balked at the measure. They wrongly argue it would hurt job creation by saving money from government incentive programs. We encourage Gov. Bev Perdue to sign the bill, and show North Carolinians she’s serious about getting our financial house in order. Irresponsible budgets passed by Democrats over the past few years have brought us to this point. We hope they will help correct past mistakes. Closing the budget gap remains our top priority.

The Senate also signed off on bills that will ease burdens on businesses. A joint resolution, (SJR 17)establishes a committee of House and Senate members to scrutinize all outdated rules and regulations that unelected bureaucrats impose on the private sector. Senate Bill 22 prohibits state agencies from crafting new regulations. For too long, our businesses have been hindered by these costly restrictions. Over the past 10 years, government agencies have created or changed more than 15,000 rules – many of which are unnecessary and burdensome.

Next week, the Senate will take up the Health Care Protection Act. That bill has passed the House, and would send a clear message to Washington that North Carolinians want the freedom to choose their own health coverage. The federal health care law would bust the state’s budget by adding thousands to our Medicaid rolls, and it would put a massive burden on North Carolina businesses. We’re letting lawmakers in Washington know they should repeal the law and start over with a bill that doesn’t burden citizens and encroach on our right to make personal choices.

The Senate passed a bill this week that bans synthetic drugs. These substances can have the same harmful effects of drugs that have long been illegal. Passage of SB 9 was an important step to getting these dangerous drugs out of stores.

Monday night, Gov. Perdue will give her State of the State address, and I will deliver the Republican response. The governor plans to release her budget proposal later in the week. We look forward to partnering with her to balance our budget and make North Carolina a better place to live.

Sen. Phil Berger

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