Phil BergerThe experts at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center will be out with more detailed analyses in the hours and days to come, but here are some preliminary takes on state Senate President Phil Berger’s big tax plan announcement/opening salvo in his race for the 2014 GOP U.S. Senate nomination:

#1 – Same ol’, same ol’ – This is what we had to wait more than four months for? After all the delays and big promises, all Berger and his aides could come up with was a plan to slash the state’s most progressive taxes (i.e. the personal income tax, the  corporate income tax and the inheritance tax) and raise more money from the tax that hits poor and middle class people the hardest — the sales tax. Oh, and since the plan won’t bring in the revenue necessary to keep government going at its already underfunded levels, the plan also contemplates lots more spending cuts to essential services. No wonder these guys are championing bills to raise class sizes and cut pre-K!

#2 – Perverting a good ideaRead More


Phil BergerNorth Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger was once a semi-reasonable guy. Conservative? Certainly. But during the first several years of his tenure in Raleigh, Berger mostly came across in a way you might expect from a middle-aged, small town, Republican lawyer: Traditional and pro-business, but pleasant, intelligent and friendly enough. Though progressives seldom found themselves agreeing with Berger, he was someone who with whom a person could have a discussion (and maybe even find some common ground).

Something happened in recent years, however, to the old Phil Berger. Especially since he became Senate leader and developed ambitions for higher office (either for himself or his kid), the old, semi-friendly small town lawyer has been replaced by a meaner, edgier, much more reactionary Phil Berger. Sometimes you almost feel as if you’re watching someone trying to play a role. His policies and policy statements are uniformly reactionary and harsh while those of his staff members are frequently even more extreme.

For a case in point, check out this story in today’s Fayetteville Observer. Read More


Phil BergerWRAL has video of all 36 minutes of Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s surprisingly far-ranging press conference today and today’s edition of the Fitzsimon File will have a thorough analysis shortly.

For those looking for some preliminary quick takeaways, however, here were a few of the highlights/low-lights:

Berger has decided to go all in with the far right agenda and appears to see it as his pathway to seeking the GOP nomination to take on Kay Hagan in 2014. Moreover, his legislative “agenda” was/is an utterly predictable recitation of Locke Foundation/Civitas/Art Pope priorities: Read More

State Budget graphic

What the heck is going on at the General Assembly? To observe this morning’s kangaroo session of the Senate Appropriations Committee (currently recessed) is a little like watching/listening to the student council at a small high school make its budget for the coming year.

First, the Senators dispensed with decades of common sense practice by eliminating subcommittee consideration of the budget and then the group raced through a list of speakers who’ve been charged with the task of talking like tobacco auctioneers to to make their comments fit the absurd couple of minutes they’ve been allotted.

Now the committee chairs Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center, Uncategorized

Do you hear that sound? It could be Charlotte’s plan for the Blue Line Extension coming to a screeching halt as a result of the Senate budget proposal for transportation, which would eliminate the Public Transportation Division’s New Starts & Regional Capital Grant Program and $29 million in state appropriations. New Starts is a grant program that allocates federal transportation resources for mass transit capital projects—such as light rail and bus rapid transit—and requires local and state matching appropriations. The proposal may cause Charlotte to lose out on $534.6 million in federal funding for the Blue Line Extension if state funds are not available to cover the required 25 percent match. Read More