Education leaders, supporters remain vigilant in anticipation of vote to override governor’s budget veto

N.C. Association of Educators President Mark Jewell has asked the teacher advocacy group’s membership to pack the state Senate chamber Monday at 7 p.m., in anticipation of a vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget.

But Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said senators have been told there will be no vote to override Cooper’s budget veto Monday.

“The Democrats will be there, though,” McKissick said, noting the senate leadership is required to give the minority party a 24-hour notice before an override vote is considered.

The NCAE is working in tandem with Progress NC Action, a Raleigh-based progressive advocacy group that has asked all state Democratic senators to pledge to vote to sustain Cooper’s budget veto.

As of late Friday afternoon, 19 of 21 Democratic senators had pledged or released public statements saying they would stand with Cooper on the budget veto, according to Progress NC Action.

Sen. Toby Fitch, (D-Wilson) and Sen. Valerie Foushee, (D-Orange), are not listed on Progress NC Action’s page containing the names of senators who plan to vote to uphold the governor’s veto.

Neither Fitch nor Foushee could be reached for comment late Friday.

McKissick said he’d be surprised if the two didn’t stand with Cooper.

“I can’t speak for them, but I have no reason to believe they will not sustain the governor’s veto,” McKissick said.

Fitch was among seven Democratic senators who voted in favor of the budget in June. The senators reportedly received millions of dollars for projects in their districts.

In his message to the NCAE membership, Jewell said it’s important for state educators to remain vigilant.

“We understand that the Senate Democratic caucus has privately committed to each other to sustain the veto, which is very encouraging news,” Jewell said. “However, NCAE and our coalition partners are asking for a public show of unity on the vote, similar to the letter that was issued by the House Democratic Caucus last month. We are asking that every Democratic Senator pledge their commitment to sustain the governor’s veto on the state budget.”

Cooper vetoed the budget because the state’s Republican leadership refused to expand Medicaid.

But the two sides also disagree about teacher pay.

Under Cooper’s compromise spending plan, teacher pay would increase by an average of 8.5 percent over the biennium. The GOP’s conference committee plan calls for an average teacher pay raise of 3.8 percent and a one-time bonus.

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