RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina lawmakers returned to Raleigh briefly on Tuesday with legislative Republicans and Democratic Gov, Roy Cooper locked in the same budget impasse from when they last met in the fall.
The legislature gaveled in at midday for what’s expected to be a one-day session with no indication that Senate Republicans have won over at least one Democratic colleague needed to override Cooper’s veto of the two-year state budget.
Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters that Senate Democrats had told him that they were all prepared to uphold the veto, retaining a political victory for the Democrats. Still, Senate GOP leaders put a veto override vote on Tuesday’s floor calendar.
Cooper vetoed the budget bill back in June in part because it contained corporate tax cuts and lacked Medicaid expansion. Cooper also proposed average teacher pay increases that are more than double the 3.9% average raises that the GOP-penned budget bill offers. A successful override vote would make the bill law, since House Republicans rammed through an override vote through a half-empty House chamber in September.
The governor, Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore and their various surrogates have argued over why no budget agreement has been reached, accusing each other of failing to negotiate in good faith. Republicans have blamed Cooper for failing to let go of his demand to expand Medicaid.
“Senate Democrats have now given their votes to Gov. Cooper, who likely has convinced them that somehow they would still get what was in the budget and he would get his Medicaid expansion,” said Berger, a Rockingham County Republican. “Instead, they and North Carolina get neither.”
Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, a Wake County Democrat, said Republicans are acting as though they still hold veto-proof majorities, as they had from 2013 through 2018. That ended as Democrats picked up 15 additional legislative seats in the November 2018 elections.
“Compromise is not a dirty word. It’s not a sign of weaknesses but I think it’s a sign of wisdom,” Blue told reporters. “Republicans can no longer keep their heads buried in the sand when it comes to governing North Carolina in this new decade.”
Senate Republicans also put two other potential veto overrides on the chamber’s floor calendar Tuesday. Legislators also planned to consider other bills involving scholarships for children of wartime veterans and largely technical tax changes.