Berger: 'Everything's on the table'

Posted February 1, 2011

Well, almost everything.

At his weekly press conference today, Senate Leader Phil Berger fielded a lot of questions about the budget. But he wasn’t yet ready to offer specifics about where budget-writers will find $3.7 billion in cuts needed to balance the state’s coffers.

Some of the options he said are under consideration include:

  • Cutting optional Medicaid services.  (This requires federal approval, since federal dollars cover much of the cost of those services.)
  • Reductions in pay for state employees.
  • Instituting premiums for state employee health insurance. (State workers currently pay premiums for dependents, but not for themselves.)

As reporters pushed him for specifics, Berger pulled back. “Everything’s on the table,” he said. “We’ve ultimately got to get from where we are now as far as a level of spending to a level that’s 18 percent lower. I think all of the things you’re mentioning end up being part of that mix.”

“There’s no way we get there without salary reductions, layoffs, reductions of certain services,” he continued. “The specific provisions have not yet been determined, but I don’t think anybody should be under the illusion that you’re not going to see those kinds of things, ultimately.”

One thing that probably won’t be part of that mix, Berger said, is privatizing the state's Alcoholic Beverage Control system.  Proponents say privatization could bring an influx of badly-needed cash into state coffers.  But many, including Berger, have voiced concerns that it would be only a short-term benefit.   He said that won’t be an area the Senate will focus on this session.

Phil Berger Berger discusses NC budget, tort reform

Berger also talked about S13, the bill that would give Governor Bev Perdue the power to hold back spending in state agencies she doesn’t control, including the Department of Public Instruction, the UNC system, and the Dept. of Agriculture.

Perdue has already imposed a 2.5 percent reversion, or hold-back, for this fiscal year in the agencies she controls. She’s seeking the power to impose the same cuts throughout state government – but at this point, halfway through the fiscal year, they’d need to cut 5 percent to catch up.

Officials at DPI say a 5 percent cut could translate to more than 4000 teaching jobs lost. Berger called that “feasible,” but said lawmakers won’t push Perdue to cut more than that.  The target for current-year cuts is $400 million. It could be on the Senate floor by Thursday.


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  • ctya Feb 4, 2011

    cut out travel and overnight stay confer-calls will do.

  • ctya Feb 4, 2011

    will the pay cuts start with Bev and going down. Don't stay in Raleigh the whole year with nothing really accomplished.

  • zzbound00 Feb 2, 2011

    another thing they failed to mention is that state employees have not had a pay raise in 3 years while gas prices and groceries have risen for them just like anyone else. Cuts should be made but they should be made where the fat was added not from those that already have to work two jobs to try to provide things for their families.

  • zzbound00 Feb 2, 2011

    There were many jobs created in the last 6 years and large money spent on programs that yielded no return yet agencies were allowed to spend it anyway. I don't believe employees that are already paid below their counter parts in the private sector should be the bearers of the burden they didn't help create. Those way up top in the state agencies were pretty much given free reign and in some agencies were managed at the very top by appointees that had no experience in the agencies to begin with. State employees' health insurance was already increased for tobacco users (benefits reduced) and will also be done for those considered by a chart to be overweight. Insurance, definitely not pay, was one of the few items left that the state could offer to get any of the decent employees it had to apply for jobs. Virginia sent (retired) employees home with more than 30 years....we hire them back and pay them more, have done so in several positions. Big government, definitely needs trimming

  • redspringssean Feb 2, 2011

    Renegotiating the State Plan With BCBS and/or opening it up to other insurers would be one way to help reduce costs rather than expecting State employees to pay even more for their coverage. I do believe that the State pays about $450 per employee regardless of whether they even have the State Plan as their insurance. Can anyone tell me who other than BCBS benefits from their over-priced plan that continues to be in the red and has to be bailed out every other year? And andyasumtneer as someone who voted for the Republicans, I expect them to clean up some of the corruption that has gone on in Raleigh and address the wasted government spending that has gone from $15 Billion to $21 Billion in the last 10 years.

  • Weaker Pelosi Feb 2, 2011

    Cut too much, and you will set state employees back to 1990 pay levels. Pay is already less than the private sector. If employees start paying premiums for health coverage, with a pay cut, it will be devastating.

  • gmarcum Feb 2, 2011

    How about all of you politicians set an example and take a pay cut yourselves?

  • COPs eye Feb 1, 2011

    Since the state is broke and reductions are in the future could you and all members show me the way by taking a pay cut....AMEN START SALARY CUTS WITH THE TOP PAID....MAKE DEEEEEEEEP CUTS IN THEIR OVER INFLATED SALARY...EVERYONE KNOWS THEY ARE SURE NOT WORTH IT IN THEIR JOB PERFORMANCE

  • theseahorse Feb 1, 2011

    Since the state is broke and reductions are in the future could you and all members show me the way by taking a pay cut

  • andyasumtneer Feb 1, 2011

    For all those state employees who voted for Republicans, watch out... for those citizens who voted for Republicans and need the state for ANYTHING, good luck with that over the next two years.