Boles, Blake Confident on Veto Override
Moore County's two key legislators expressed confidence Tuesday that their respective chambers would easily vote to override Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of the state budget bill.
"I am confident that, with votes by the five Democrats, the House will override the veto, and I expect it within 24 hours," state Rep. Jamie Boles said Tuesday morning. "We need all five Democrats to demonstrate that this is a bipartisan budget."
State Sen. Harris Blake was tied up in back-to-back committee meetings Tuesday and did not have time for an interview. However, he left a voice mail message advising that the Senate was expected to take its vote shortly after the House votes on the override. He was also confident of the vote.
The House did not convene until 7 p.m. Tuesday, but it was up to that chamber to take the first vote because the House was the source of the budget this year. The two houses alternate budget initiative from session to session, and it was the House's term this time.
Blake and Boles are Republicans. State Rep. Joe Hackney, whose district includes one and one half precincts in Moore County, is a Democrat and did not vote for the House budget. Hackney is expected to stick with the Democrats on the override vote.
Perdue, a Democrat, used her veto stamp Sunday. It was the first time that a governor has vetoed a budget since veto power was granted in 1997. With Republicans controlling both legislative houses, this was the sixth time she has exercised her veto power since the General Assembly convened in January.
"I will not put my name on a plan that so blatantly ignores the values of North Carolina's people," she said Sunday. "I cannot support a budget that sends the message that North Carolina is moving backwards, when we have always been a state that led the nation."
The $19.7 billion budget approved by both houses last week differs in several respects from the budget proposed early in the session by the governor. The legislative budget adds funds for 1,124 teaching positions but cuts $124 million in other areas, which critics say could lead to the loss of 9,200 other positions across the state.
Another objection raised by Democratic opponents centers on the shift of school bus replacement and workers' compensation costs from the state to counties. Most of the differences are found in public education funding.
Perdue wants to retain a sales tax scheduled to expire June 30 as a means of covering much of the state's revenue shortfall. The Republicans oppose continuation of the tax.
Republicans were quick to condemn the governor's action.
"The same governor who claims to champion job creation and public education has vetoed a bipartisan budget that does more for both causes than her own proposal," Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said in a statement released Sunday, "The only explanation for this veto and her statewide media campaign is that the governor believes it is more important to energize her liberal base than to govern responsibly. By placing politics ahead of the public interest, she engages in obstruction of the worst kind, and we will act quickly to move North Carolina forward."
House Speaker Thom Tillis said he was disappointed in the veto.
"Gov. Perdue has had access to this budget for almost two weeks, and she should have made this decision days ago to help provide certainty to counties and school boards across the state," he said in a statement." She has shown no leadership on this issue and no willingness to work with the legislature, choosing instead to veto a budget that protects education and creates jobs. We look forward to overriding the governor's last-minute veto very soon."
Berger is a Republican from Rockingham County, Tillis a Republican from Mecklenburg County.
Although Republicans have majorities in both houses, the House percentage is not quite large enough for Republicans alone to override a veto. Democratic votes are needed to achieve the needed percentage for an override.
It's a different story in the Senate, where the GOP percentage is sufficient for an override without any help from Democrats.
State Rep. Dewey Hill, one of the Democratic defectors, made a statement on television early this week indicating that he intended to vote for the override. Hill lives in Whiteville.
Legislators were so confident of the override vote that plans are in the making to recess by Friday. They are working some late night sessions to pass the final bills on their agenda, and some of those bills likewise face a gubernatorial veto.
In a budget note of local interest, Boles said that he is still working to restore funding for Samarkand Youth Development Center at Eagle Springs. He is hopeful that the needed money can be returned when the technical correction budget is approved following adoption of the budget.
One other institution of interest here, the historic House in the Horseshoe, is included in the budget, albeit with extensive operating cuts, as is the case with agencies and institutions throughout the state.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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