Senate leader Phil Berger, on the first day of the new General Assembly’s 2013 session, didn’t exactly offer an olive branch to the minority party Wednesday.
During his remarks on the Senate floor, the Republican from Eden fired a few broadsides at Democrats, as he heralded in an era that hasn’t been seen since the 19th century: the GOP controlling the executive branch as well as both chambers of the General Assembly.
“For too many years, North Carolina tried to tax and spend its way to prosperity,” Berger said. “And for too many years, North Carolina lost jobs, lost businesses, failed to educate many of our children and struggled to compete.
“Our leaders had lost their way. And our state lost its place as the leader of the South, and the envy of the nation.”
Berger said the work of fixing the state’s problems began two years ago with the newly GOP-dominate legislature. “Today, that work continues,” he said.
Berger addressed the members of his own party.
“To my Republican colleagues, we must show our constituents, this state, and this country that there is a real difference between a Washington Republican and a North Carolina Republican. North Carolina Republicans deliver. We keep our word, and we at on the promises we’ve made.”
Berger’s reference to Washington fuels speculation that he is positioning himself to run for U.S. Senate.
On Wednesday afternoon, the state Democratic Party responded:
"Senate Leader Phil Berger’s statement on the floor of the North Carolina General Assembly is disgraceful." the statement issued by spokesman Clay Pittman said. "The Senator seems to be forgetting that it was the Democratic Party that built our Community College system and our University system into model programs for the rest of the country. He has forgotten that it was Democratic leadership that has made North Carolina a consistently top-5 ranked state for business. He has forgotten that it was the Democratic Party that built the Research Triangle Park, that recognized that Pre-K education is the most important asset a child can have, and that have always known that good jobs grow from a good education.
"Senator Berger also seems to have forgotten that his party has fought every step of the way to take us backwards. Just last year, under his leadership, North Carolina Republicans slashed funding for our schools, put profits for special interests ahead of the health safety our citizens, and demonstrated blatant disregard for racial justice."