He portrayed North Carolina as a state that had lost its way and had fallen from its perch as an economic leader of the South.
And he took a dig at fellow Republicans in D.C.: "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 act on the promises we've made," Berger, R-Rockingham, said in prepared remarks.
The main promises Berger's focused on: Tax reform, regulatory reform and public education reform. Those are all needed, but the question is how to accomplish those things. Will tax reform mean more than just cutting taxes and reducing revenues? Will regulatory reform mean more than gutting important regulations that protect N.C. citzens' environment and safety? Will public education reform mean more than shifting money out of the traditional public school system and into private and quasi-private schools?
We hope so. We encourage Gov. McCrory, Sen. Berger and the legislature to accomplish all three goals in a way that extends North Carolina's legacy as a state serious about educating its children and fostering economic growth in an enlightened way.
Below are Sen. Berger's complete remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you for that warm welcome and for the trust you’ve placed in me. It is a true honor, and a responsibility that I do not take lightly.
“Today, we renew the fight for reform that started two years ago when the voters sent a new General Assembly to Raleigh to change the way our government operates.
“For too many years, North Carolina tried to tax and spend its way to prosperity. 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.
“We vowed two years ago in this chamber to begin fixing those problems. And we’ve made great progress in just a short period of time.
“Today, that work continues.
“Senators, as we make tough decisions, think of the families out there struggling to make ends meet, sitting around their kitchen tables, balancing their check books, saving for retirement or a college education for their children. Think of them as we craft bills and cast votes.
“Ask yourself: how can we help them create a better life? How can we work together to help small businesses become more successful? And help working families take home more pay?
“Ask yourself: how can we help their kids get a better education regardless of the political consequences?
“Ask yourself how we, as a body, can come together to help our local towns and communities compete in order to create jobs and grow the economy?
“The voters have placed in our hands enormous trust and responsibility. We have the opportunity to set sweeping policy, to change the direction of North Carolina and to make a real and lasting difference.
“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 act on the promises we’ve made.
“We made that clear last session. We cut taxes – unleashing private enterprise to grow our economy and create new jobs. We cut government red tape and bureaucracy. We began the long process of retooling our public education system, to make it more focused on delivering positive results for our children.
“Those were great achievements. But they were only the beginning.
“These next two years, Republicans and Democrats must set the bar even higher.
“With Gov. McCrory, his administration, and leaders in every branch of government, we will reform our old and outdated tax code. Today our tax system slows economic growth, kills jobs, and hurts businesses. It’s one of the single greatest roadblocks to our recovery, and we will not stop until it’s improved.
“We will continue making government more efficient and more responsive. Taxes on working families are still way too high. Regulations on our job creators are still way too cumbersome –and we have an obligation to change them.
“We will never back down from the effort to reform our public schools. No child should be forced to attend a failing school. And while we are committed to rewarding and recognizing our best teachers, no teacher should be guaranteed a job if they fail in their responsibility to educate our children.
“Every month, every week, every day that we accept mediocrity, another child slips through the cracks. We will move on this critical issue – and we will move quickly.
“Most of you know me. I grew up in a working class home. My dad worked with his hands for a living.
“Throughout my life, I’ve had to work hard, as many of you have. I worked multiple jobs while raising a young family to get through college and law school. My wife, Pat, and I both understand what it takes to make ends meet.
“We’ve seen firsthand how hard work and determination makes anything possible.
“Education reform. Tax reform. Regulatory reform. They are lofty goals.
“But if we work hard, we can change our state, make it more competitive, more successful and help the families of North Carolina.
“I know many North Carolinians have lost hope. They feel stuck. They wonder if they’ll ever get ahead.
“Each and every day that we walk into this chamber, remember. We have an obligation to those in our state who are working hard and doing their best to provide for their families.
“Now is the time that we – as leaders – roll up our sleeves and get to work. We will not waste this great opportunity.
“Will there be tough battles? You bet. Will we have to make decisions that take us outside our comfort zone? Yes. But it is the right thing for us to do.
“And no matter how difficult or daunting the task, we must keep our eyes on what’s best
for the people of this great state.
“Thank you. And may God bless this body and the people of North Carolina.”
-- Taylor Batten