Berger: Budget moving, but not benefits

Senate Leader Phil Berger expects his chamber's spending plan to be finished by the end of the month. But he says there's no progress on restoring federal jobless benefits.

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Laura Leslie

Senate budget writers aim to finish work on their spending plan by Memorial Day.

That was the word this morning from Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. He said the Senate will post the proposal for public review over the holiday weekend, and then vote on it the following week.

Berger expects the Senate’s budget “will be somewhat lower than the House numbers. We will go back to the original targets.”

How much lower? “Not a significant amount,” he said, “but some reduction.”

Berger also said the GOP caucus has no plans for new legislation to change a legal formula that would allow federal extended benefits to resume for more than 37,000 jobless North Carolinians.

“That’s a difficult issue,” Berger admitted when pressed on the matter. He said he hopes the governor will “modify her position.”

“What has the governor done, other than say ‘Do it my way’?” Berger asked. “I’d like to hear back from her as to what she would consider a compromise.”

Perdue press secretary Chris Mackey sent the following response via e-mail:

“The Governor has been clear, and this issue is not complicated. The Governor supports extended unemployment benefits. The legislature claims to support extended unemployment benefits."

“When the legislature sends a clean bill that extends unemployment benefits to her desk, she will sign it. No further discussion should be necessary.”

Watch Berger's unedited press conference at right.


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