• NC Senate leader talks jobs after Shelby visit

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    SHELBY, N.C.,None - The state Senate leader came to Cleveland County this week to see how business-friendly regulations are putting North Carolina back to work.

    Senate President Pro-Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, attended AT&T’s Wednesday announcement that the telecommunications company would bring more than 100 jobs and an investment of $935 million to Kings Mountain’s data center park. Berger joined Gov. Bev Perdue and host of other high-profile elected officials.

    A private-practice attorney in Eden, Berger said the regulatory reforms signed into law last year played a significant role in AT&T’s decision to invest in North Carolina.

    “I don’t believe the General Assembly can create a job unless we’re talking about a government job,” Berger said.” What the General Assembly can do is look at our regulatory climate. We’ve also got to reform our tax system. We have to have tax revenues to provide certain government services, but we need to find a way to make sure we are competitive with other states in terms of how we tax and the level that we tax.”

    Berger listed jobs, education, transportation and infrastructure as the top issues facing the Tar Heel State. Reforming the state’s public school system is a high priority for the Republican-led General Assembly, he said.

    “North Carolina has a public education system that, quite frankly, is not doing as much as it has in the past,” he said. “There are some things that need to be done to make sure our people are provided the opportunity to get a quality education.”

    Berger said Republican state Sens. Wes Westmoreland and Warren Daniel invited him to attend the AT&T announcement Wednesday at the Cleveland Country Club.

    Westmoreland is filling the final year of Debbie Clary’s term representing Cleveland and Rutherford counties. New legislative districts that take effect with the 2012 election cycle will pair Cleveland and Burke counties in a redrawn Senate District 46.

    Daniel, who now represents Burke and Caldwell counties, is seeking the Cleveland-Burke state Senate seat. Westmoreland is supporting Daniel and will not run against him in the May primary.

    Berger said legislative redistricting which took place last year will change the face of the General Assembly, but it isn’t likely to change the current Republican majority.

    “I think the mandate that we saw in the 2010 elections in districts that were drawn by the Democrats earlier will be much the same in the districts drawn by the Republicans,” he said. “I think you’ll see a lot of new faces in the General Assembly, but as far as the majorities you see now, I don’t think it will make much of a difference.”

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