An effort by the North Carolina Senate to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a bill that would give teachers a 3.9 percent pay raise and a 4.4 percent raise in supplemental pay failed Tuesday.
With a vote of 28-21, Republicans failed to conjure up the three-fifths majority required to successfully override.
The vote came after a heated discussion and morning news conferences as both parties continue to bump heads over teacher pay and the budget. The bill in question offers a smaller pay raise than what Cooper had proposed. The 4.4 percent raise in supplemental pay would only be implemented if Senate Democrats agree to override the governor’s budget veto.
“I want everybody in this room to understand that the Democrats fully support the teachers, the support personnel and those people in our state who make sure that our children have the opportunity for the best education…. We respect you, and we respect you to the tune that you deserve,” Sen. Gladys A. Robinson, D–Guilford, said adding that educators should get a “decent pay increase.”
Cooper vetoed SB 354 in November. His budget proposal called for about a 9 percent pay raise for state educators before the Republican-authored budget was passed in late June with a 3.8 percent raise.
Cooper vetoed the $24 billion budget a few days ahead of the start of the current fiscal year. The House of Representatives successfully overrode the veto in September. It would take one Democratic senator’s vote or the absence of two Democrats to push forward the override. The Senate may attempt a budget override after an afternoon recess Tuesday.
Senate Republican leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said the Democrats’ strategy is to block teacher pay raises then put the blame on Republicans.
“Senate Democrats have rejected every teacher pay offer we've proposed, and Gov. Cooper has vetoed every teacher pay raise we've passed,” Berger said.
Berger said Tuesday at a news conference that Democrats’ “loyalty” to Cooper and his Medicaid “ultimatum" will likely cause the budget stalemate to continue until the next fiscal year. He said that along with teacher pay, millions of dollars worth of capital improvement and school construction projects will continue to be stall as the budget impasse persists.
On the other hand, Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue said he wants teacher pay raises and the budget to be separated.
“We made a proposal to deal with teacher pay. Medicaid expansion has nothing at all to do with the discussion that we are asking them to have,” Blue said at a news conference Tuesday where he was joined by members of North Carolina Association of Educators.
The Senate voted in favor of ending the session Tuesday until April 28.