FILE - North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed four budget bills on Friday, three of which are portions of the state’s budget proposal he vetoed in the summer.

Cooper blocked the release of funds for the state’s Department of Information Technology and pay raises for educators.

Just like Medicaid expansion, the pay raises have been a hotly contested item for North Carolina leaders. Cooper said the salary increases in House Bill 231 and Senate Bill 354 are inadequate. 

The vetoes come a day after Senate Republicans offered Senate Democrats a compromise of higher teacher pay raises in return for pushing through the state’s $24 billion budget.

“The General Assembly continues to shortchange teachers and non-certified school personnel like cafeteria workers, bus drivers and teacher assistants, despite a robust economy and decent raises for other state employees,” Cooper said. “Educators deserve more if our schools are to remain competitive with other states and keep good teachers.”

The vetoed budget offered teachers a pay raise of about 3.8 percent. Republicans said Thursday they will up the raises to 4.9 percent and add a $1,000 bonus if Democrats would agree to move the spending proposal forward. 

The Senate may reconsider an override of the vetoed budget as early as Nov. 13, but Republicans are one seat short of the needed supermajority to successfully override the veto. One Democratic would have to join are Republicans to successfully override.

Cooper has asked for a 9.1 percent raise for teachers but said he could compromise with 8.5 percent. The governor has also agreed to detach the item for the overall budget debate.

“I will negotiate the pay raises of teachers and other educators separate and apart from Medicaid expansion," Cooper said. “I urge all legislators from both parties to help us come together and support our teachers.”

Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger on Friday accused the governor of using educators as “pawns.”

“Teachers are told to be good, loyal Democrats and their union and their governor will take care of them. But they need to ask themselves: ‘What has Roy Cooper ever done for me?’” Berger said. “He’s vetoed every single teacher pay raise that's come across his desk, and he chose today to give teachers nothing for the next two years.”

Cooper also stalled the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars for the state’s IT services. He said the bill does not issue enough money to combat cybersecurity concerns or back North Carolina’s data collection needs.

The governor also flagged Senate Bill 578, which would have cut franchise taxes and raise the threshold for film and entertainment grants.

Cooper called the bill irresponsible, adding that it will jeopardize the state’s education funding.

 Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, said Cooper’s veto of the bill is a contradiction of his actions.

“He has no problem attending ribbon cuttings and doling out incentives to individual companies, but he won't sign a bill reducing the burden on businesses already creating jobs in our state,” he said.

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for three years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.