Last week, the NC General Assembly approved a new state budget and Governor Roy Cooper vetoed it.
This week, a lot of elected leaders in Guilford County who wanted that 2019-2020 budget to become law are working hard to make sure that some key Guilford County components in that budget agreement remain in when it’s all said and done. The budget passed by the General Assembly includes millions for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina A&T State University, projects in Guilford County’s small towns, money for school construction and mental health projects in the county – along with other local projects.
One vocal critic of the governor’s veto this week was Oak Ridge Town Councilmember George McClellan.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said soon after the governor vetoed the plan.
The vetoed budget includes money for a security camera system for Oak Ridge that McClellan and other town leaders say will help reduce crime there and will aid the local government in other ways.
McClellan also said that he’s trying to convince those he knows in power to override this veto.
“We need a budget,” he said, adding that he’s thinking about starting a social media campaign with that hashtag: “#Weneedabudget.”
Guilford County Commissioner Jeff Phillips is another political leader in the county who wants an override of the veto. He said one key component in the budget is the millions included for a major new mental health center in Guilford County.
“There are several other key funding measures included in the House/Senate budget for Guilford County as well,” Phillips said.
Phillips said he’s hoping some Democrats in the state legislature will join in and help override the veto.
He also has another recommendation for budget supporters: Pray.
“Lives are seriously at stake in all this political stuff,’ the commissioner said.
Phillips said there’s “a lot of work to be done to get this budget across the finish line.”
Another elected leader in Guilford County very displeased with the veto is NC House Rep. Jon Hardister, who, on Sunday, June 30, issued a press release addressing the governor’s decision.
“It is disappointing that Governor Roy Cooper has chosen to veto the state budget,” Hardister wrote. “This is a very responsible spending plan that provides reasonable investments for the citizens of North Carolina.”
He added: “This budget includes an increase in education funding and a five percent pay increase for state employees. Teachers would receive an average pay increase of nearly four percent and veteran teachers would receive bonus pay. There is also an increase in funding for school safety initiatives, mental health treatment and substance abuse services. We also provided retirees with a one percent COLA bonus over the two year biennium.”
According to Hardister, not only does the budget on the table provide sound investments in core state government services, it also allocates $700 million to the state’s Savings Reserve Account – a fund more often called the “Rainy Day Fund” that would be used in the case of an emergency or natural disaster. He stated that those savings would also help solidify the State of North Carolina’s AAA credit rating.
Hardister wrote that he hopes his fellow legislators in the General Assembly will come together to override the veto.
“We can then get back to debating other issues that are relevant to members of both parties,” his press release states.
“The citizens of North Carolina deserve to have a government that works for them,” Hardister concluded. “Let’s work together, pass this budget into law and further solidify our status as one of the most fiscally-responsible, business-friendly states in the nation.”