Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday vetoed the proposed $23 billion General Fund budget passed by the legislature, setting up an override vote promised by leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly.
The state Senate quickly responded by overriding his veto 34-14 later Tuesday and the House passed its veto override vote Wednesday morning in a 76-43 vote.
After the vote Moore released a statement saying, “The governor chose partisanship over the people of North Carolina when he rejected middle class tax cuts and a fourth consecutive teacher pay raise. But the General Assembly has delivered these priorities to North Carolinians without his support.”
SB257, the budget bill, passed with 77 votes in the House on third reading and with 39 votes in the Senate. Thirty votes are required in the Senate for a veto override and 72 are required in the House, if the full chamber is voting.
The House and Senate, with Republican majorities, have overturned all four of the Democratic earlier governor’s vetoes, with the budget override becoming the fifth.
Cooper has criticized, above all else in the budget, its moves on education funding, saying that the budget missed the mark and also included things that should be phased out, such as the Opportunity Scholarship Program.
In a statement Tuesday, the governor said:
“This budget neglects our schools and our economy at a time when North Carolina should be making public education stronger, not giving special breaks to those at the top.
“It prioritizes tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and shortchanges our workforce and schools at a pivotal time of growth.
“The budget also lacks structural integrity by failing to account for population growth, inflation and looming federal reductions, by using one-time revenue for recurring expenses, and by adopting a tax plan that will cause the state to fail to fund promised teacher salary increases in future years, along with funding for early childhood education, community colleges and universities.
“Additionally, the Act contains provisions that infringe upon the Governor’s ability to faithfully execute the laws, including the administration of this Act, as required by the Constitution, and violating the separation of powers.
“These shortcomings can be fixed, and I encourage the General Assembly to do so by capping tax cuts so they benefit the middle class, investing more in public education, and fixing the unconstitutional flaws in this bill. But in its current form the Act shortchanges North Carolina.
“Therefore, I veto the bill.”
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger responded to Cooper in a statement, saying in part:
“First, you pledged to ‘put more money in people’s pockets by cutting taxes for middle class families.’ Legislators have long shared that goal. It is for that reason that, according to nonpartisan staff, the largest beneficiaries of the tax reductions contained in this budget are those earning less than $50,000. Our plan also removes 95,000 of the lowest-income North Carolinians from state tax rolls altogether and shifts more of the overall tax burden toward the highest earners. Put simply, this budget keeps your promise, and any claims to the contrary are false.
“Second, you promised robust support for public education. And while you are correct that the plan for public education outlined in this budget is not ‘your’ plan, it does provide robust support, including a fourth consecutive teacher pay raise (this time totaling the 10 percent average increase you called for), scholarships for children of gold star veterans killed in combat, and school construction funds for our most economically distressed counties. I am concerned you would reject these good ideas because they were not your own.
“I understand you fundamentally disagree with many legislators about the scope and size of state government. But you cannot deny that Republicans’ philosophy and approach of overall spending discipline and broad tax relief have resulted in consecutive years of balanced budgets and revenue surpluses, while other states that have relied on your tax-and-spend approach, like Illinois, are going bankrupt.”