The House approved the override vote of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto Tuesday, joining the Senate which passed an override vote last week, ensuring that the state will have an approved budget going in to the new fiscal year on July 1.
With the override votes, the $23.917 billion spending plan is approved, representing a 4 percent increase over the previous budget.
The House garnered the required three-fifths majority votes in both chambers securing a 34-13 vote in the Senate and a 73-44 vote in the House.
Discussion on the House floor ahead of the vote centered on the lack of transparency in the budget process during the Short Session in pulling together the budget legislation in conference committee and not having amendments offered to the budget on the floor as in years past.
“Today’s veto override delivering pay raises, disaster relief, and increased education investments is great news for the people of North Carolina who are fortunate to avoid the $470 million budget shortfall and tax hikes proposed by the governor,” House Speaker Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said.
Cooper also vetoed the budget in the Long Session last year leaving some to wonder if this pattern will remain throughout Cooper’s term.
“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 Senate budget override vote. “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 and Moore’s comments were 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.
Now with the major hurdle the legislature is tasked with sorting out during the short session complete the question now is what does legislative leadership hope to achieve from now until the legislature adjourns until 2019.