Republicans Begin To Override Gov. Cooper's Budget Veto

Jun 7, 2018

File photo of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. Republicans have started overriding Cooper's veto of state budget adjustments for next year.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Another of Governor Roy Cooper's vetoes is headed for an override by the Republican super-majority in North Carolina's General Assembly.

The day after Cooper, a Democrat, vetoed the GOP-crafted, $24 billion spending plan, the state Senate voted 34-13 to override it, amassing the requisite three-fifths of those present.

Cooper announced his veto Wednesday, assailing the budget as short-changing teachers and environmental concerns in favor of scheduled tax cuts for corporations and high earners.

But in floor debate Thursday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) noted the General Assembly's non-partisan Fiscal Research Division's forecast that the governor's proposed budget would create a shortfall of almost $500 million, a prediction the governor disputes.

"What it shows is that the governor's budget fails that simple test of competence," Berger argued.

Republicans kept the tax cuts in place and passed a budget with average 6.5 percent teacher pay increases, along with significant raises on average for correctional officers and state troopers. Full-time state employees also would have to be paid at least $31,200 a year — the equivalent of $15 per hour — a minimum that would benefit thousands of low-income workers.

Cooper and his allies also complained that the budget was negotiated privately by House and Senate Republicans, with no chance for lawmakers to offer amendments publicly.

"The budget that the governor vetoed is riddled with holes and land mines, and people will come to see that in the coming weeks," Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said Thursday. "North Carolinians were shortchanged and shut out of your budget ... and it puts special interests ahead of families.

The GOP budget adjustments, which largely would take effect July 1, also would spend $220 million on government building projects and repairs and set aside essentially the same amount in the state's rainy-day reserve, putting the balance above $2 billion.

The House is expected to take up the override vote early next week. The General Assembly has overridden 10 vetoes since Cooper took office in 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.