NC Senate president pro tempore Phil Berger laid out an agenda for the upcoming session at a press conference this morning.
My take: NC residents can expect to see some form of tax reform and a voter photo ID law this year, and that the Obamacare exchange will be run by the feds.
It sounded as if Medicaid will be if anything a bigger problem in the year, and years ahead.
As always, as has been said, it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. And the devil is in the details.
On tax reform, Berger said a tax reform package will pass this General Assembly this year. He noted that “every member of my caucus supports tax reform.”
But how much of a cut in income taxes? Berger said, “we are going to shoot for the lowest possible … and that would be zero.” The details are still being discussed, however.
As for the Obamacare exchanges, he said that at practical level there wasn’t much difference between three models: the federal-run, the state-run, and a hybrid state-federal operation. “Whatever model you choose … they will be operated and the rules promulgated at the federal level.”
Berger added that at this time he didn’t see support in the General Assembly for the state or hybrid exchanges.
A voter ID would have to have a photo and meet constitutional requirements, Berger said, and he said he thought the GA could accomplish that. An observation: On this matter he seemed very matter of fact, which to my mind is a stronger prediction than other politicians’ feverish rhetoric on whatever issue.
He too pointed out how not having an ID would be a major problem for anyone. By the end of March this year all federal benefits will be distributed electronically. That means you must have a bank account or the equivalent — and you are required to have a photo ID to open an account.
In other words, as we have been saying, anyone who truly cares about the ill or destitute will make every effort to ensure they have photo IDs, just to get in the social safety net, with voting as a bonus.
On the budget, “We’re in much better shape than we were two years ago,” he said, while making it plain that Medicaid remains a huge problem.
Those are some of the bigger topics; I hope to update later today.