North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore

In this July 24, 2018, AP photo, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, top left, speaks with Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett and aid Mark Coggins, right, during a special session at the General Assembly in Raleigh, N.C. 

North Carolina Democratic House members are calling for the budget impasse to end. Republicans responded by saying there will be no compromise on Medicaid expansion, something the Democratic governor wants.

Fifty-one of the 55 Democratic representatives sent a letter addressed to Republicans Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore on Wednesday asking to negotiate.

“The votes are not there for an override. Not in July. Not in August. They won’t be there in October,” House Democratic Leader Darren Jackson wrote on Twitter Wednesday night.

Both the GOP and Democrats are accusing the other side of stalling the state’s nearly $24 billion budget that covers spending for the 2020 fiscal year. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the spending bill in late June because it did not include an expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Since then, the option to override the veto has lingered on the House floor for more than 30 days.

In their letter, Democrats said they will not join Republicans to vote against the override but would like to move forward with negotiations.

Berger spokesman Bill D’Elia said Thursday that as long as the governor continues to maintain his Medicaid stance, a “serious” compromise will not exist.

“It's sad that so many legislators are allowing Governor Cooper to strong-arm them into choosing party loyalty over their constituents and use them as a political tool to block a $24 billion budget over a single policy ultimatum,” D’Elia said in a statement.

Cooper presented a counter proposal of the budget with Medicaid expansion, which was excluded from the original bill. Some Republicans have pushed for a separate health care program, a health care task force and other alternatives.

Both parties in the House supported a bill on Wednesday that allows small business owners to form large group health plans for employees.

Meanwhile, the budget bill remains on the calendar with no action expected soon.

Seventy-two of the 120 state representatives would have to vote “yes” to override the veto in the House. That means if all of the Republicans vote to override, seven Democrats also would have to support it.

Cooper said Republicans are stalling because they do not have the votes.

“Republican leaders have attempted to bribe legislators for their votes, even auctioning off a state agency to multiple counties, and publicly threatening local funding if members don’t support an override,” Cooper said in a statement Wednesday.

The budget proposal that Cooper vetoed gives state employees and teachers raises and funds school construction and infrastructure projects throughout the state. 

Cooper has publicly asked Republicans for a counteroffer to his.

Berger said in a statement Tuesday that the governor won’t respond to him.

“It also must be disappointing for these legislators that they gave away their votes to somebody who won't even bother to stand up for his ideas in a debate,” said D’Elia.

North Carolina has been able to keep operations going from reserves from the 2019 fiscal year, which ended on June 30.

 

Staff Writer

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.