Senate update from Phil BergerPosted: March 10, 2011
|We all remember too well last year’s tax-refund debacle. Some families didn’t receive their checks until months after the tax filing deadline. Republican legislators, like so many of our citizens, were outraged, and we are committed to keeping history from repeating itself. North Carolinians deserve their money promptly.
But we learned this week that Governor Beverly Perdue has again put those refunds at risk by proposing illegal money-transfer schemes to pay for them. Instead of borrowing from the private sector, as the Treasury Secretary indicated in January they would do, the governor wants to divert money from funds we need to pay debt to the federal government.
Our non-partisan professional staff at the General Assembly says this is a clear violation of the state Constitution. It also is a strong indicator of the mentality that has permeated state government for decades: Much like members of a private club, Democratic lawmakers act as they please, without regard for our state’s laws and Constitution.
To ensure citizens are paid quickly, we’ve given the governor a viable solution: Senate Bill 13. The bill would save nearly $800 million in the current fiscal year, which will help us prepare to balance next year’s budget, and give the governor immediate cash flow to support refund checks.
The governor irresponsibly vetoed the bill last month. We overrode that veto in the Senate this week, and we hope she’ll allow four of her Democratic colleagues in the House to vote to override. The people of North Carolina deserve to be paid, and they deserve to be paid legally and responsibly.
Protecting health care freedom
The governor last weekend vetoed House Bill 2, an important measure that would allow North Carolinians to opt out of parts of President Obama’s federal health care law, including a mandate that every citizen purchase health insurance or be criminalized. We found it interesting that a bill the governor previously said wasn’t worth a battle received her veto stamp, on the heels of a White House meeting with President Obama. We think the governor should do what’s best for North Carolina, not what’s best for her political patrons in Washington. The N.C. House failed to override the veto. But rest assured: We will do all we can to drive down health care costs and make it more accessible for all North Carolinians, and we’ll do it without treading on personal freedoms.
Balancing the budget
Our Appropriations subcommittees are still hashing out ways to restructure state government to make it more efficient, and ways to balance the budget without raising taxes. How will we do it? Right now, everything is on the table. What we know for sure is that we will not revert back to the destructive tax-and-spend policies that put us in a financial mess, left so many North Carolinians unemployed, and saw our school dropout rates increase. We’re going to climb out of the hole we’ve inherited and change the way state government operates. Right-sizing it will create new jobs, improve the quality of our classrooms, and give North Carolinians more freedom.
Senator Phil Berger
President Pro Tempore