The North Carolina State Legislature is still in session, and judging from the rhetoric this week between Gov. Roy Cooper and President Pro Tem of the state Senate Phil Berger, there isn’t much love between the two.
On June 28, Cooper vetoed the budget passed by the state legislature that was supposed to go into effect on July 1, which means the state is well into its fourth month without a budget.
On Sept. 11, the House overrode Cooper’s veto when most of the Democrats were out of the House chamber. The news media quickly reported that the Democrats were at a 9/11 memorial ceremony – a report that turned out to be false. The Democrats said that they were not in the House chamber because they had been told there wouldn’t be any votes that morning. Why the Democrats had been missing vacations, family events and work to be in Raleigh to prevent the Republicans from overriding the veto and then decided not to go to House chamber one morning is puzzling.
But for whatever reason, the Democrats weren’t there and the House voted to override the veto, which leaves the state Senate as the single roadblock to passing the budget. Republicans in the Senate need only one Democrat to vote for the budget, or two Democrats to miss a meeting, to override Coopers veto, and go home.
This week, Cooper and Berger were sniping back and forth again and the rhetoric has gotten harsher.
Tuesday, Oct. 8, Cooper tweeted, “For 90 days, our educators have been at work while Republican legislators have lied, cheated and taken a vacation. It’s time for them to do their jobs and negotiate a budget that gives teachers the significant pay raises they deserve.”
Berger responded, “Governor Cooper’s rhetoric is just not helpful. He knows full well he vetoed every teacher pay raise this legislature has passed. If it were up to him, teachers wouldn’t have gotten a pay raise last year.
“Governor Cooper should stop with the grandstanding and come on over here so we can cut a deal. If he dropped his Medicaid expansion ultimatum, we could work something out this week.”
It doesn’t appear that Cooper and Berger are anywhere close to making a deal, but it is possible that a couple of Democrats in the Senate could come down with the flu between now and Oct. 31 when Berger has said the Senate will adjourn, budget or no budget.