North Carolina won’t have a 2019-2021 budget according to President Pro Tem Sen. Phil Berger, who held a press conference in Raleigh on Tuesday, Jan. 14 to make the announcement.
The word was that when the North Carolina General Assembly met in January, at least one Democratic senator would vote for the biennial budget, giving the Republicans enough votes to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
The House voted to override the veto on Sept. 11, when many of the Democratic representatives and some of the Republicans were not in the House Chamber.
Republicans had said that Cooper had threatened the Senate Democrats with primary opposition if they voted to pass the budget and the theory was that after filing for the 2020 election had closed, that threat would go away and at least one Senate Democrat could be persuaded to vote for the budget.
Tuesday morning Berger said he had met with the Senate Democrats and “all of them plan to sustain Gov. Cooper’s veto.” Berger noted that several had voted for the budget when it passed the Senate before Cooper’s veto, and “nothing in that budget has changed.”
Berger said the Senate Democrats were putting their loyalty to the governor and his Medicaid expansion above the needs of their constituents.
Berger noted that no new budget meant “no teacher raises and no money for school construction.”
He said, “People should judge the Democrats by their actions.”
When asked about a separate bill to provide a teacher pay raise, Berger said that it amounted to about $5 billion and that was too large a portion of the budget to handle separately. He said the earlier offer to increase the teacher pay raise from what was in the budget passed by the legislature was contingent on the passing the entire budget and even Cooper had made statements that it could not be negotiated separately.
Berger said, “Gov. Cooper refused to sign any budget including his own unless Medicaid expansion was included.”
Berger said, “The truth is they are holding out in 2020 because they hope to be in charge in 2021 and that’s not going to happen.”
Berger said that the legislature planned to adjourn today after taking several votes and did not plan to come back into session until April, and he predicted a short, short session.
Despite not being able to pass a budget, the state will continue to operate based on the 2017-2019 budget plus the mini-budget bills that passed giving many state employees, but not teachers, raises.
Allocations in the vetoed budget made to cities, towns and counties that were not included in mini-budget bills won’t be made.