Budget Now Hangs Squarely on GOP
Even though an override was almost certain (and has since happened), Gov. Beverly Perdue was right to take her veto stamp to the legislature’s misbegotten budget.
Our only problem is that the Democratic governor took so long to make her statement about the Republican spending plan, which is likely to do so much damage to North Carolina and its people — including reducing per-pupil expenditures in the public schools to a level below that of Mississippi.
By dallying over her decision for almost two weeks while local governments and school systems suffered in suspense while preparing their own budgets, Perdue was in danger of playing into the hands of GOP leaders like N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who accused her of displaying lack of leadership — and of waiting too long while putting up a finger to see which way the political wind was blowing.
A Decision of Conscience
In the end, though, Perdue made the only decision conscience could allow her. The legislature’s $19.7 billion budget simply cuts too deeply into programs needed to educate our kids, encourage creation of jobs, provide help for those who need it, and generally maintain the quality of life on which the Old North State places such importance.
It was ironic to hear Speaker Tillis’ complaint that Perdue was showing no willingness to “work with the legislature” — and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger’s charge that she was only trying to “energize her liberal base.”
Fact is, the Republicans in control of the General Assembly have ridden roughshod over the opposition from day one, showing zero interest in compromise. Intent on energizing their own conservative tax base and having drunk the anti-tax Kool-Aid, they refused to consider keeping even a fraction of the one-cent sales tax increase on the books that could have blunted the damage.
Their middle-of-the-night veto override is only the latest example of an inflexible, ideologically driven agenda that has extended its tentacles far beyond budgetary matters.
Responsibility Is Clear
The Republican legislators are trying to convince themselves — or at least the state’s voters — that their budget creates more jobs and treats schools and colleges nicer than Perdue’s own version would have. But House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, whose district includes part of Moore County, was having none of that.
Allowed three minutes to speak to the House before the override vote came down, Hackney read from a report by the N.C. Budget & Tax Center. It showed that the 14,000 jobs the GOP budget says it expects to produce in the next two years will be dwarfed by the loss of 45,000 public and private-sector jobs caused by massive spending cuts and consequent loss of federal funding. That amounts to a net loss of more than 30,000 jobs.
As Raleigh columnist Scott Mooneyham noted in a Wednesday column on this page, one positive thing about the governor’s futile veto and the subsequent negation is that it makes it all the more clear to the public whose budget this is. The legislative Republicans own it lock, stock and barrel. And when its negative consequences begin to make themselves felt, North Carolinians should have no doubt about whom to hold responsible.
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