Commentary, Governor Roy Cooper, Legislature, News

We haven’t seen it yet, but North Carolina’s budget has veto written all over it

As of this moment, we — the huddled people, press and politicos of North Carolina — haven’t seen a draft of lawmakers’ agreed upon budget, but given the latest dispatch from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, this one has veto written all over it.

Which is to say that our turgid budget process, which was supposed to wrap before the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year, may last weeks and even months.

Stated Cooper spokesperson, Ford Porter, Monday morning:

“We want a budget that invests in teacher pay instead of more tax cuts for corporations, that has a school and infrastructure bond instead of a slush fund, and that includes Medicaid expansion to insure 500,000 more North Carolinians. Right now, legislative Republicans are not interested in serious negotiations on these issues, but we hope they will change their minds and agree to put everything on the table as Governor Cooper has.”

Cooper’s office spoke out, with many expecting a proposed budget from House and Senate conferees in a matter of hours. Of course, no one’s seen the thing, a trademark of North Carolina’s surreptitious budget “process.” But the stagecraft squabbling by lawmakers and Cooper’s reps leaves little reason for optimism.

As The Insider‘s Colin Campbell reported, even a sausage biscuit confab Friday at the Capitol with Cooper, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, and House Speaker Tim Moore, was a blunt failure.

From The Insider:

On Friday morning, House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger walked to the old Capitol building to meet with Cooper and House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake. Berger was spotted carrying a bag of Bojangles’ sausage biscuits, while both legislative leaders were carrying binders labeled “budget compromise options.” One of those proposals involves agreeing to a special legislative session “to address health access issues, including Medicaid expansion,” according to a joint statement from Berger and Moore.

“The governor previously proposed a ‘two-track’ solution and wants Medicaid to be ‘part of the conversation,'” the joint statement said. “This meets both of those requests. The governor rejected the proposal. We’ve asked for concrete compromise proposals from the governor for nearly two weeks now. He has refused to provide them.” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said Friday that during the meeting Cooper and Jackson “made clear to Republican leaders that they oppose corporate tax cuts, unaccountable school vouchers and the SCIF slush fund and said that any budget compromise has to include discussion of Medicaid expansion, a school and infrastructure bond and significantly higher teacher salaries. Gov. Cooper indicated today that these items are negotiable, but Republican leaders have nearly completed their budget and are unwilling to discuss all of these important priorities that benefit our state.”

With legislators’ veto-proof majority torpedoed last year, this is the first time Cooper and legislators have been forced to haggle over the budget. Which is to say that we’ve never seen this negotiation before. Which is to say that the only thing we know is what we don’t know.

Every indication is legislators are intractable on Cooper’s biggest prize, Medicaid expansion, a damnably durable position for GOP legislators that’s as cold-hearted as it is illogical. But it’s clear that another round of GOP-authored tax cuts, school choice spending and a K-12 bond are on the table too.

The latter may be a key wedge in these deliberations. Moore’s already specified his tardy support for a statewide bond, while Berger retains his trademark acerbity on the subject. To recap, North Carolina faces billions in school facility demands. Moore has been willing to create a bond for at least a portion of those needs, but Berger’s more conservative Senate is loathe to take on the debt.

The tit-for-tat deliberation is just beginning. Miles to go, it seems.

5 Comments


  1. Ann

    June 24, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    Veteran teachers have been discriminated against for not getting a pay raise when others have gotten significant amounts. Where’s the ACLU and NCAE when you could use some lawyering up?!

  2. Bill Sorenson

    June 25, 2019 at 10:21 am

    The NCAE is nothing more than a state chapter of the NEA. The NEA is NOT about protecting schools, students, or teachers but rather pushing an agenda. The March this years was tied directly to the NEA and the brand of NC School Personnel has been damaged. We need a TRUE public school advocacy group that works on NOTHING else. I am proposing to start one myself.

    We need a true education only Political Action Committee. The NCAE is simply another hard left group to the average NC Voter and that is why we lose out. Ann’s comment above is GOSPEL truth.

    No one cares Ann, but if we band together and avoid all the other divisive issues, we can at least get the citizenry to listen.

  3. Craig

    June 26, 2019 at 6:32 am

    What about the veteran state workers who for years never got a raise.. a person off the street makes the same as a person with 25 years. It’s a disgrace..

  4. Deb

    June 26, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Giving a ‘bonus’ to veteran teachers instead of a raise is a joke. Bonus’ are taxed at a higher rate and don’t count towards retirement benefits. It’s time for veteran teachers to get the raise they deserve.

  5. J harris

    June 26, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    Governor Cooper a $500 or 1.5 pecent raise for state employees is a slap in the face thats not even 20 dollars every 2 weeks let me see you and your cabinet accept a slap in the face like that . when is the next election ? social media is all I have to say

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