The $30 billion state budget passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and sent to Gov. Roy Cooper last week is currently in a state of limbo, but that hasn’t stopped elected officials from commenting on it.
Cooper has said he won’t sign or veto the budget, which means it will become law after it sits on Cooper’s desk gathering dust for 10 days.
The budget bill largely deals with taxes and how to spend the revenue from taxes, but it also includes a bunch of other legislation that has little to do with taxing or spending.
One of those items in the budget, which comes under the classification of “other,” takes some of the power away from Republican North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey from Guilford County. As insurance commissioner, Causey is also the state fire marshal. However according to the legislation in the budget, in January, Causey will no longer be state fire marshall but will appoint a state fire marshal with the approval of the state legislature. Taking power away from other elected officials is something that Republican legislatures often do to elected officials who are Democrats and that Democratic legislatures often do to elected officials who are Republicans.
Taking power away from an elected official of the same party is unusual.
Causey expressed his concern about this legislative action in a press release stating: “While I deeply appreciate the 7% pay increase over two years for state employees, I am disappointed at some of the items added to the budget that negatively impact the fire service and our volunteer firefighters in North Carolina.
“I especially detest the way these items were added without input from the department, the State Firefighters Association, county fire marshals or fire chiefs. I have yet to meet the first person outside of the General Assembly that favors an independent State Fire Marshal.
“The lack of communication with the Department of Insurance and no input or discussion allowed on changes to the Office of the State Fire Marshal is very disturbing.
“These needless changes have upset and angered the hardworking firefighters who have volunteered and dedicated their time to improving the ISO ratings at more than 80 percent of our fire departments.”