NC State Senate District 18 — Doug Berger (D)
Political Party: Democrat
Occupation: Attorney, educator
Campaign website: http://www.bergerfornc.com/
The economy is at the top of voters’ minds in this year’s election. What do you think elected officials can do to address it?
At the state level, I think we need to keep North Carolina attractive for business investment. I believe that having a well-trained workforce is one of the critical specters when companies make a visit to invest, and I think that’s something North Carolina has been on the cutting edge historically, particularly relative to rest of the South.
Unfortunately, over the past few years, we’ve reduced the emphasis on making sure there’s adequate funding for education at all levels. I think we need to go back to the fundamentals. I think North Carolina is one of the most attractive states for businesses to invest.
Why should your constituents elect you?
I have the experience that enables me to get the job done. I’ve been in the trenches. The three main areas that make up the state budget — 55 cents of every dollar is spent on public education. I was a public school teacher for three years in eastern North Carolina, so I’ve been on the front lines. Twenty-six cents of every dollar is spent on the healthcare budget. For 10 years I was a worker compensation judge solving disputes between workers and insurance companies over issues of access to healthcare. Ten cents of every dollar spent on the budget comes out of the criminal justice system.
I spent almost four-and-a-half years serving as a criminal prosecutor. My opponent literally is a professional politician. He is 28 years old. His only professional experience before he announced he was running was serving as a campaign manager and a legislative aide. He has no real-world experience. I think that that is a key difference between the two of us: my experience versus his lack thereof.
What do you think of the state’s new fracking law and how do you think it should be implemented?
Every vote that has been cast by the North Carolina Senate about the fracking issue, I have voted against fracking. I do not believe that we will maintain the personnel to be able to strictly enforce the fracking law, which I think if fracking can be done safely, it has to be strictly monitored by the government. We are living in the age and time when people do not want to increase government spending on personnel. The emphasis has been on cutting government. I don’t believe in this environment one can do fracking safely because the state will not have the long-term commitment to make sure that we have a strong regulatory authority to ensure that it is done safely.
In a recent Supreme Court ruling, the court gave states the option of expanding the Medicaid program to cover many low-income adults, and the federal government will be paying for the bulk of the expansion. What, if anything, do you think North Carolina should do about expanding Medicaid?
I think that issue is a no-brainer. The federal government is going to pay $5 out of every $10 it spends on Medicaid. The more people that are covered with insurance, the less health care will be for each individual person. I can tell you having been a judge in worker injury cases, or been a lawyer representing injured people, that when people do not have health insurance, they wait until they’re very sick, and they show up in the emergency room. That is the most expensive form of care. By expanding Medicaid, we could get folks who have common diseases such as diabetes to take their medication regularly with a primary care physician and avoid the costly expenditures associated with diabetes in its late stage. Economically, it will put a lot of health care professionals back to work. Anyone who talks about doctors dissipating health care doesn’t fully appreciate the positive impact of people having health insurance on the overall cost of health care.
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