Senate Leader Berger 'surprised' by veto

NC Senate Leader Phil Berger "was surprised" that Gov. Perdue shot down the GOP's political gambit in H383.

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Laura Leslie

Senate Leader Phil Berger defended the Republican strategy on H383 to reporters today. That’s the bill that tied the extension of federal unemployment benefits to a budget provision that would have forced the governor to accept a minimum of a 13 percent budget cut next year. Perdue vetoed the bill Saturday.

“I was surprised that she vetoed the bill,” Berger said.

Berger says the proposed spending level is based on projections by state budget experts. “We know how much money we’ll have, and that’s where the 87% number comes from.”

“I think it’s fairly clear as far as the governor is concerned that she’s not interested in signing a budget unless it includes some sort of tax increase,” Berger said. “The people of this state don’t want a tax increase.”

Berger and Tillis announced this morning they will try to override the veto. That’s easily done in the Senate, where the GOP controls enough seats to reach the necessary 3/5 vote. But in the House, Republicans would need four Democratic votes to override.

If the override doesn’t work, would there be another benefit extension bill forthcoming? “We haven’t decided for sure,” Berger said. "We’ve sent a bill that extends those benefits. We asked the Governor to sign it. She said no. It is our hope that the governor will reconsider and will free the Democrats on the House side to vote for the override.”

When asked how much of the conflict over H383 is politically driven, Berger said, “It’s clear that there’s a philosophical difference between where we are and where the governor is. And I think there’s a philosophical difference between where the governor is and where the people are. I think that’s one reason you see her popularity ratings in the 30s - because the people don’t agree with her approach to government.”

“Her approach is that we need to continue to grow government, we need to continue to raise taxes,” Berger went on. “The voters have made it clear they want smaller government, they want lower taxes.”

A new Elon poll out yesterday shows the majority of NC residents, Democrats and Republicans, would support extending the temporary taxes for a year to avoid deep budget cuts.

But Berger dismissed those numbers: “You know, you’ve heard me say before the only poll that I’m interested in is the poll that happens every two years in November.”

Watch the conversation below, and sorry for the shaky-cam effects - I was catching it on videocamera. (It stabilizes pretty quickly, I promise.)


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