Local Politics

Perdue, GOP lawmakers need to work together

Posted January 26, 2011 5:39 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2011 6:54 p.m. EST

North Carolina flag, NC flag, state flag, N.C. flag

— For the first time in generations, North Carolina's governor and legislature come from different parties, and political observers said Wednesday that they need to work together for the good of the state.

The General Assembly opened Wednesday with positive words from both sides about the forced marriage between the Republican-led House and Senate and Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue.

"We must work together to bring about real, positive and lasting change," said new Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican.

"The opening day is always full of excitement, and it's full of the knowledge that you can change the future," Perdue said.

That future now depends on how well opposing political beliefs can blend.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt had to deal with a Republican House from 1995 to 1998. Rep. Harold Brubaker, R-Randolph, was the House speaker during that period.

"It was a great working relationship last time," Brubaker said Wednesday. "Gov. Hunt and I both had a pro-business background in some respects. In other areas, he kind of fell off the wagon, but I had to bring him back on."

Perdue was a member of the state Senate during at that time, and Brubaker said he hopes she can "take a page out of that playbook."

The projected $3.7 billion budget deficit presents the first challenge for Perdue and the GOP leadership in the General Assembly. Perdue said Tuesday that she wouldn't rule out extending temporary sales and income taxes that were passed two years ago to deal with another deficit, but Republican leaders say they won't allow that to happen.

"We're going to find something we disagree on, and when we get there, we'll find a way to resolve that. I think, on a personal basis, we'll be able to communicate well," Berger said.

Hunt said he believes the state should keep the temporary taxes in place to preserve education and state services. He said he's confident that Perdue will do what's necessary.

"We have to work together, but there are times where you have to stand up," he said. "If the governor finds a time she has to veto a budget that doesn't do what's right for North Carolina, she should be prepared to do it, and I think she will be."

Perdue said she, like Republicans, is ready to restructure state government. The difference comes in how to get there.

"At the end of the day, we're going to work together ... to grow jobs and educate our children," she said.