Over the next several months Real Facts NC will release a series of reports on key North Carolina legislators and how their work impacts the people in their districts. In the first of the series we’ll take a look at the man claimed by many to be the most powerful individual in state government, Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger.
Berger has represented Rockingham County since 2001 and became minority leader in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem, the leader of the Senate, in 2011. While Berger has succeeded in Raleigh enacting his conservative agenda, Rockingham county has seen more than its fair share of setbacks in recent years.
Read below a summary of how while Phil Berger has gotten ahead in Raleigh, Rockingham has fallen behind. Find the full report: here.
The Republican budget would increase state funding to pseudoscience crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) by 516%. These organizations masquerade as providers of health services to women, pushing dangerous and misleading propaganda on those seeking care. It’s also notable that this significant increase in public funding comes with no mechanism to hold these organizations accountable for their actions.
The compromise budget would allocate $1.3 million to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship which describes itself as “life affirming ministries”. Additionally, the Republican budget has allocated $100,000 to Coastal Pregnancy Center and $450,000 to H.E.L.P. Center, both are known CPCs.
The Republicans have even planned to give $300,000 in state funds to a Texas-based anti-abortion group that exists to outlaw all abortions. The Human Coalition deploys internet marketing strategies to ‘make abortion unthinkable and unavailable’ by directing patients to CPCs rather than legitimate healthcare facilities, some of which are ran by the Human Coalition themselves.
This unconstitutionally elected Republican majority continues to legislate, not on behalf of the people of North Carolina, but on behalf of their billionaire backers. Instead of protecting the middle class and building world-class public schools, this budget gives tax breaks to billionaires. Under this budget, North Carolina will keep falling behind when it doesn’t have to.
In addition to education, the GOP budget fails to provide for critical areas of need for rural North Carolina - including broadband and economic development..
The GOP budget also wastes money on projects of the extreme right:
Though there are several key sticking points between House and Senate versions of the budget that need to be negotiated, neither version holds a candle to the Cooper plan. As the Raleigh News & Observer said, Cooper’s budget offers a “better vision” for North Carolina.
The Senate budget provides no cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees, and the House version includes only a one-time bonus of 1.6 percent. When House Democrats tried to increase the cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees with an annual adjustment of 2 percent, Speaker Moore successfully tabled the amendment. With the House “adamant” to include the retiree bonus in the final budget, cost of living adjustments might become a sticking point between chambers.
The wind farm moratorium could be a deal breaker as the House might not have enough votes to override a Cooper veto if the final budget contains a moratorium. The Senate’s version of the budget includes a three-year moratorium on wind farms. Several key members of the House, including Rep. Bob Steinburg, said they could not support a budget with a wind energy moratorium.
The chambers do not agree on the greatest needs in education funding. The Senate’s budget included a $75 million fund that would help pay for school repair and construction in poor counties. The House directs more money toward financial aid for college students and K-12 buses instead.Read More
Republicans in the legislature are more interested in funding ideological groups that mislead women and deal in pseudoscience than in providing actual health care to women.
This year’s House budget proposal allocates $1.3 million to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, a notable increase from the Senate’s $400,000 budget allocation. The Fellowship is an umbrella organization for so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.”
Crisis Pregnancy Centers, or CPCs, present themselves as women’s health clinics, but most CPCs do not have any medical professionals on their staff and few CPCs share this fact with their potential clients. Women walking into CPCs looking for abortion services would instead find anti-abortion “counselors”. These “counselors” give women inaccurate medical information about the risks associated with abortions, such as reporting a connection between abortion and breast cancer, a theory that has been discredited in multiple medical studies.
Earlier this week, Sen Phil Berger told the crowd at Rural Day that the Senate remains focused on “how we can improve the life of hard-working folks like you and your families” such as “confronting the opioid crisis” and creating common senses change that “enables rural North Carolina to thrive just like the rest of North Carolina.
Apparently, he forgot to tell his budget writers because the Senate budget clearly cares more about millionaire’s than rural communities.
North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest has been noticeably absent from several key events in the state so far in 2017.
The NC Senate debated the budget on May 11 from about 4 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. They came back into session for the third reading at 12:05 a.m. on May 12. Forest, who’s role as Lt. Gov. makes him President of the Senate, did not preside over either session. Instead Forest was presiding over an empty chamber in the Utah Senate.