It’s a question that many advocates and observers have been asking more and more of late: How in the world can the Republicans running the General Assembly — a group that for years complained about lack of transparency when the Dems were running the show (sometimes with justification) — submit a state budget bill for consideration on the first day of the legislative session next Wednesday (as they have said they will)?
There haven’t been any public hearings. There hasn’t been any opportunity for public comment. Governor Perdue isn’t even releasing her proposal until tomorrow. I mean, what the heck?
At a press conference today, long-time General Assembly reporter Mark Binker asked Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger about this and the fact that he (Berger) had often railed about this issue when he was in the minority.
To which Berger provided a remarkable reply. According to Berger, transparency is a different matter during a short session. Because lawmakers are just making “adjustments” to a budget with which everyone is basically familiar, little things like notice and public comment aren’t really necessary.
Earth to Senator Berger: Transparency is about more than people knowing what’s being proposed; it’s also about people having a chance to have input. It’s about elected leaders actually listening (or at least pretending) to the people they’re elected to represent.
By Berger’s absurd “logic,” there’s no reason to even bother with a short session at all; he and House Speaker Thom Tillis can just write the darned thing themselves and mail it in when they’re finished.
Frankly, however, given all the other awful things these folks are likely to consider doing when they reconvene in session next week, we might well be better off.