Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that he has vetoed the state budget proposal passed by the legislature, sending the measure back to the General Assembly where it will go for override votes in the House and Senate.
Republicans in both chambers still hold enough seats to override Cooper’s veto without a single Democrat vote, and likely will take that option over revamping the budget proposal and sending it back to Cooper for signing.
Cooper vetoed the budget plan last year and this budget adjustment legislation will seemingly follow the same path.
Following the passage of the budget proposal Cooper’s staff said he would be reviewing the budget but given his comments during the budget process a veto comes as a surprise from no one.
Cooper made his announcement surrounded by teachers and other public school employees criticizing the legislature for its teacher and personnel raises in the budget, saying that the raises don’t go far enough.
In three short sentences Cooper enumerated why he would not be signing the budget. “I will not sign my name to a budget that protects corporations and the wealthy at the expense of schools and students,” Cooper said. “This budget falls short of what our teachers and public education need. North Carolinians will not stand for a secret, unchangeable budget born of a broken legislative process.”
Following Cooper’s veto House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate Leader Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) released a joint statement saying that they would overturn Cooper’s veto and deliver pay raises to state employees, teachers, principals and law enforcement officers this year.
“Gov. Cooper has once again shown that he is more concerned about scoring political points than helping North Carolinians,” the statement read. “Let’s be clear about what the governor has done. He has opposed a 6.5 percent teacher pay raise, he has opposed an 8 percent state trooper raise, he has opposed a new living wage of $31,200 for state employees, and he has opposed tax cuts that would result in 99 percent of families and small businesses having reduced or no state income tax. The people of North Carolina deserve better and they will get it when we override his veto.”
And while it was Cooper who said that legislature’s proposed budget fell short according to projections from the state Fiscal Research Division it may actually be Cooper’s spending plan that would fall short for North Carolinians.
Projections from the nonpartisan division show that Cooper’s proposed budget could lead to a $469.3 million deficit in the 2019-20 fiscal year, as opposed to Cooper’s Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) which projected a budget surplus of $165 million in 2019-20.
OSBM is part of Cooper’s administration while the Fiscal Research Division is a nonpartisan body working at the legislature.
A comparison of the two budgets shows that Cooper’s budget would appropriate $25.05 billion compared to $24.4 billion in the General Assembly’s spending plan.
The legislative budget proposal is projected by fiscal research to have a $6.8 million surplus at the end of the fiscal year compared to Cooper’s coming up $469 million short.
While it is unclear what methodology OSBM used to arrive at its lofty figure for Cooper’s budget, fiscal research uses an estimated 4.5 percent figure to make its calculations, resulting in the nearly half a billion dollar deficit in Cooper’s budget plan.