North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper released a statement Friday, Sept. 4, saying that he would sign the Coronavirus Relief Act passed by the North Carolina legislature earlier in the week.
Since the bill passed the state Senate 44-5 and the state House 104-10. It would seem to be a given that Cooper would sign the bill into law.
But the way Cooper and the legislature have gotten along, nothing in Raleigh is a given. Many people assumed that, despite their differences, the legislature and Cooper would eventually reach some budget compromise in 2019. Since the budget did not include Medicaid expansion, which was a must for Cooper, he vetoed the budget. The legislature couldn’t override the veto and no compromise was ever reached.
The Coronavirus Relief Act spends about $1 billion of the money allocated to the state by the federal CARES Act for COVID-19 relief, and any money that is not spent by the end of the year must be returned to the federal government. State governments do not generally give up the chance to spend “free money” from the federal government.
Since the legislature has adjourned, a veto by Cooper would have caused all kinds of problems, not the least of which is that Cooper and the vast majority of state representatives and senators are running in the Nov. 3 election and don’t want to be spending time in Raleigh when they could be out campaigning.
Cooper, in his statement agreeing to sign the bill, also cited some of his displeasure. He said, “This budget followed my recommendations on school enrollment funding and invested in important areas like high speed internet access and disaster relief, but legislators should have done more to expand Medicaid, support small businesses, pay our educators, assist with rent and utilities relief and further help unemployed North Carolinians. Obviously I don’t agree with every provision, but the funding for pandemic support in this budget is critical and must move forward.”
So the good news is that families with children under 18 will be receiving $335, ostensibly to help them with childcare expenses since public schools in the state were not allowed by Cooper to return to regular in-person classes.
However, there are no restrictions on the money. Families are free to spend it as they see fit, and it is $335 per family and not per child. So a family with one child under 18 receives $335, as does a family with six or more children under 18.