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Cooper Vetoes Spending Plan, Override Likely

Gov. Roy Cooper, flanked by teachers, announces Wednesday his veto of the budget the legislature passed last week. Photo: Kirk Ross

RALEIGH – Saying the budget passed last week by the General Assembly “doesn’t cut it” when it comes to providing funds for school safety, teacher salaries and clean water, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that he vetoed the bill.

House and Senate leaders are planning a quick reaction to the governor’s decision. A joint statement released by House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger said their budget represented substantial pay increases and vowed to override the governor’s action.

“Gov. Cooper has once again shown that he is more concerned about scoring political points than helping North Carolinians,” the statement said.

Cooper, flanked by teachers as he made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, said in addition to concerns about education spending, the GenX response in the bill was shaped by industry interests.

“It’s not just education. In this budget, legislative Republicans gave the chemical industry what they wanted on GenX, but they refused to listen to everyday people who simply want clean drinking water.”

— Gov. Roy Cooper

“It’s not just education. In this budget, legislative Republicans gave the chemical industry what they wanted on GenX, but they refused to listen to everyday people who simply want clean drinking water,” Cooper said.

The governor was referring to reports that specific items in the lengthy GenX provision in the budget, such as limitations on the capabilities of a spectrometer for the Department of Environmental Quality, were inserted at the behest of the North Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, which represents Chemours and other manufacturers.

“Gov. Cooper has once again shown that he is more concerned about scoring political points than helping North Carolinians.”

— Statement from top Republicans

Cooper also complained that the budget was drafted in secret with committee hearings beforehand and no amendments allowed and called the process “an unprecedented, authoritarian power grab by legislative leaders.”

A veto vote is expected first in the Senate as early as today. Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers and are expected to easily override Cooper’s veto.

The governor said that his proposal forced some changes in the in the legislature’s spending plan, but he took heat for insisting his plan did not have a budget deficit after the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division estimated it would create a $470 million shortfall. Administration officials insisted the governor’s proposal, which is based on higher projected growth rate in revenues, would result in a $185 million surplus.

About the Author

Kirk Ross

Kirk Ross is a longtime North Carolina journalist based in the Triangle. In addition to Coastal Review Online, he covers the legislature and state government for Carolina Public Press and The Washington Post. He can be reached at kirkrossreport@gmail.com.