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.
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:
In February Senator Wesley Meredith introduced S65, the BRIGHT Futures Act which encourages the establishment of a digital infrastructure, “necessary for economic innovation,” including broadband, in rural areas.
Meredith joined Cumberland Rep. John Szoka and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest for a press conference on February 9, in which Meredith expressed excitement about the bill saying it was something he had been working on for six years.
“We have a lot of people who do not have access to broadband,” Meredith said, “we need to have that.”
S65 puts the Rural Economic Development Division in charge of giving grants to the Rural Infrastructure Authority to build digital infrastructure to support broadband. But while S65 is stuck in Senate Rules, Meredith had a chance to vote for the exact broadband investments he says he wants.
Instead, Meredith voted against a budget amendment that would have resurrected his six-year endeavor to connect rural North Carolina during the late-night Senate budget debate on May 12.
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.