In his second term, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper had a brand new experience on Thursday, Nov. 18.
Cooper signed a state budget.
The state budget totals $25.9 billion and is the result of months of negotiations between Republican legislative leaders and the Democratic governor. The state fiscal year began on July 1.
But for the first time since 2017, North Carolina has a budget, which means all state employees will receive a raise, those on the state retirement system will see an increase in benefits and there are a number of allocations such as the $338 million for the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite that are now law.
In 2017, in his first year in office, Cooper vetoed the budget but the state legislature overrode the veto and the state budget went into effect.
The legislature passes a biennial budget in odd years and usually makes amendments to the two-year budget in even years.
In 2019, the legislature passed a state budget with bipartisan support and Cooper vetoed it. Legislative leaders and Cooper were unable to reach a compromise budget agreement. One of the primary reasons for Cooper’s veto was that the legislative leaders refused to include Medicaid expansion in the budget and Cooper refused to sign a budget that didn’t include Medicaid expansion. There were other issues, but Cooper said that Medicaid expansion had to be included for him to sign a budget.
The state House was able to override the veto in 2019 with most of the Democratic representatives absent, but the state Senate could not. Several Democratic senators had voted for the budget originally but they refused to vote to override Cooper’s veto.
The result was that the legislature passed a number of mini-budget bills that provided salary increases for some but not all state employees and overall spending remained at the levels set in the 2017 budget.
The 2019 budget does not include Medicaid expansion. President Pro Tem of the state Senate Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said some form of Medicaid expansion would pass in the Senate but not the House.
However, Cooper and the Republican legislative leaders were able to reach agreement on enough budget issues for Cooper for the first time in his nearly five years in office to sign the state budget.