The first order of business when the North Carolina House of Representatives reopens on Monday is a second look at the state’s fiscal budget proposal.
The proposed budget bill was vetoed June 28 by Gov. Roy Cooper, who said he did so because it lacked funding for Medicaid expansion and shorted public education, infrastructure and rural economic surplus, among other things.
“This is a bad budget with the wrong priorities,” Cooper wrote on his veto message.
House representatives can choose to override the veto or compromise with the governor.
Cooper said he and his staff would spend the Fourth of July holiday working out an alternative proposal for the budget. In the meantime, members of the House Appropriations Committee will meet back at the statehouse on Monday by 2 p.m. to review the proposal. They can override Cooper’s veto with a three-fifths vote.
There are 120 members of the budget’s House committee, a majority of which are Republicans. The committee voted 64-49, with seven members absent, before placing the bill on the governor’s desk. Sevent-two of the state representatives would have to vote “yes” to complete the override on Monday.
The main sponsors of the bill, Reps. Linda Johnson, R-Cabarrus; Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth; and Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday. Twitter feeds were filled with retweets of videos and flyers that blast the governor for stalling the $24 billion budget as the statehouse has been closed for the national holiday.
“Gov. Cooper just vetoed over $1.3 billion for Eastern North Carolina. Call your representative & senator to urge them to override the governor’s veto,” a flyer posted by Republican Sen. Jim Perry said.
Cooper’s veto puts the new fiscal year spending on hold. The state will have to rely on the budget leftovers from the last year to keep operations afloat. With Independence Day Thursday, it further delayed the legislative process. The lawmakers took a recess on July 3 and the legislative schedules were left empty on July 4 and July 5.
Cooper’s main gripe with the budget proposal is that it excluded a Medicaid expansion that he hoped would cover about 500,000 more North Carolinians. Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger said Medicaid expansion could be discussed at a special session later. Medicaid talks have been part of an ongoing tug-of-war between the Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers leading up to the drafting of the final proposal.
“We can and should have that debate and other ways to improve health care here in North Carolina,” House Majority Leader John Bell said during the budget-building process. “But holding up an entire state budget because it doesn't include Medicaid expansion? It's not fair to the people we serve.”
The Senate would have to also vote against the governor’s veto for the override to be fully executed. It will take 30 votes from the chamber to do so. The proposal passed the Senate with a 33-15 vote last week with two absences. Four Senate Democrats joined all of the Republicans present in giving the budget the nod.