Editorial: Cooper's olive branch vs. Berger's blowtorch
Posted March 15
A CBC Editorial: Wednesday, March 15, 2017; Editorial # 8135
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
Gov. Roy Cooper came to the General Assembly on Monday evening holding an olive branch. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger greeted it with a blowtorch.
The contrasts between the firm but conciliatory tone of Cooper’s message and the whiny, confrontational comments by Berger couldn’t have been starker.
They are difficult to mention together, so we’ll take on Cooper’s State of the State address first.
REASONED, MODERATE APPROACH
Cooper outlined a reasoned vision for the state and his governorship that the General Assembly should embrace.
It was a speech marked by a tone of inclusion. From the outset, Cooper stressed compromise and accommodation to accomplish important goals.
“Partisan battles, power struggles and lawsuits might grab the headlines, but we have to work together where we can, to look beyond ourselves to see what’s right for the state regardless of who’s in power,” he said.
He is correct in insisting that, despite every effort by the legislature to the contrary, there is a role for the governor in the operation of state government. “Our Constitution mandates that we work together,” Cooper said, opening his remarks. It was not a threat. It was not a demand. It is a fact.
He was right to repeat his call for repeal of House Bill 2. This hurtful law enshrines discrimination and set North Carolina’s hard-earned reputation back to the to the 1950s.
Still, the call for HB 2 repeal shouldn’t overshadow other critical initiatives.
On education: Increasing educator pay, boosting enrollment in early-childhood education, using community colleges to train workers for 21st century and providing scholarship to attract the best students into teaching careers are must-do items.
He called for strategic tax credits to help low income families and incentives to revive the state’s faltering film industry and promote economic growth in the state’s rural communities. Cooper's stressing that cuts to corporate income taxes and those for wealthy individuals have gone far enough.
He importantly acknowledged the blossoming renewable and sustainable energy economy – that’s been one of the few economic development bright spots for the state.
Cooper didn’t shy away from problems the state faces – and the need to address them.
Closing the gap between those who have, and lack, health insurance is critical and it is important to “sit down and have serious discussions about improving access to care.”
The opioid addiction crisis is a threat to families, no matter where they live. Cooper’s suggestions for a multi-pronged approach that embraces mental health and law enforcement resources is the right direction to try and address the epidemic.
Cooper presented a sound and reasoned approach to addressing the state’s needs. It was not a take-it or leave-it list of demands – but a framework of thoughtful ideas and programs to move North Carolina forward.
N.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger’s astonishing response to Gov. Roy Cooper’s State of the State Address was nothing short of mean, spiteful and belittling.
We did not expect him to agree with all of Cooper’s proposals. Berger opened by talking with pride about his view of the accomplishments of the legislature since 2011. That’s what he should do.
But then he turned himself into a victim, launching into chest thumping, blame-the-messenger, attack the press, why-don’t-the-people-appreciate-me, diatribe.
“If anyone but Republicans had accomplished all of this, the press would tout North Carolina as a national success story,” he said.
He was vicious as he slammed the views, beliefs and behavior of all those who might disagree with him.
He said those who don’t share his view of the General Assembly’s work over the last six years aren’t in honest disagreement, but blindly partisan.
Despite all the vitriol, there was one point that Berger was right about: “Divisiveness and hyper-partisanship have diminished the public faith in their elected officials.”
If anyone should know that, it is Phil Berger. What was clear after his diatribe was that he is so motivated by partisanship he will attempt to crush nearly every initiative, proposal or program that comes from the governor – regardless of its merit or likelihood of moving North Carolina forward.
It is unfortunate that the man who rules the General Assembly didn’t display a shred of generosity and open-minded-ness on Monday evening when he spoke to the people of North Carolina.
Don’t take our word for it – click here to see for yourself.