Gov. Roy Cooper singed a technical corrections bill on Monday that made a number of changes to the state budget that many don’t consider technical in nature, including removing the 2020 sunset date for the state’s film industry grant program.
The bill, SB582, makes some technical fixes but the contentious part of the legislation referred to changes made to the state attorney general’s (AG) office ability to delegate appeals to attorneys outside of the AG’s office.
The measure was a topic of hot debate during the special session last week, which stops the AG from returning any criminal appeals to local district attorney offices, instead requiring that the AG’s office handle those cases.
Democrats opposed the move, while Republicans say that it is already the AG’s job to handle those appeals and this measure just ensures that happens.
Opponents argue that the AG’s office has already seen deep cuts from the last budget, leading to dozens of lost positions. But since July, after the passage of the budget, the AG’s office has posted job openings for 32 positions, 18 of which are for attorneys, supervisors or assistant/deputy attorney generals, according to information from the state Fiscal Research Division.
Of those 32 positions, 13 are state appropriated, 17 are receipt supported and 2 are federally supported.
According to the AG’s reduction in force plan issued August 1, there was to be a hiring freeze, which has been lifted, and a dozen filled attorney and attorney supervisor positions were “separated” as of August 1, but the job postings would seem to cover that amount and more.
The bill passed in a 70-44 vote in the House and passed the Senate in a 30-17 vote, both along party lines.
Following signing the legislation into law Cooper said, “While I strongly oppose the continued partisan attacks on the office of the Attorney General, this legislation does include some important provisions. In particular, it lifts the sunset on the film grant program. The film industry creates jobs in North Carolina and we need to do more to bring certainty for the companies that come to our state. In addition, the legislation provides at least a temporary fix to the school principal pay problem. We need a permanent fix to attract and retain great principals.”
Cooper was referring to non-recurring funding in the last budget for principals.
In addition to criticizing the measure in the bill relating to the AG’s office Cooper also said that the legislation failed to address class size issues in the budget.
“Unfortunately, the legislature failed to fix the unfunded class size mandate that will force local schools to make major cuts,” Cooper said. “This needs to be done immediately.”