The super majority of Republicans in the state Senate on Thursday voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the legislature’s budget proposal in a 34-13 party line vote.
There were three legislators absent from the chamber during voting.
The House has placed the budget override vote on the calendar for Tuesday, June 12.
If the House successfully overrides the budget then it will be the second budget passed without Cooper’s signature.
“Today Senate Republicans reaffirmed our commitment to delivering a responsible, sustainable budget for the people of North Carolina,” Senate Leader Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), said after the budget override. “On the other hand, Senate Democrats followed Gov. Cooper’s lead and supported a budget that will lead to a roughly $470 million deficit due to a half billion dollar ‘spreadsheet error.’ They don’t explain which taxes they will raise or which 7,000 teachers they will lay off to pay for it.
“The governor’s budget fails the simple test of competence. It’s quite an accomplishment to go from half billion dollar surpluses to a half billion dollar hole in just one year. I’m pleased Republicans don’t accept that backward approach and instead acted swiftly to ensure a 6.5 percent teacher pay raise, tax relief for 99 percent of families and small businesses, key businesses recruitment tools and record rainy day funding will all become law.”
Berger is referring to a report from the Fiscal Research Division projecting Cooper’s budget proposal would result in a deficit of $469.3 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year, though Cooper’s Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) 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.
Cooper announced his veto surrounded by teachers and other public school employees. Cooper criticized 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.”