As we enter the fourth week of the new fiscal year, the budget standoff continues. Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget because it did not expand Medicaid. This action blocked critical funding for projects all over the state, specifically several million dollars that would go directly to Moore County. Some of these projects include:
■ $50,000 for the Moore County Historical Association;
■ $50,000 to the Moore Free and Charitable Clinic;
■ $250,000 to expand, maintain or establish a non-opioid treatment to relieve addiction in county jails;
■ $100,000 parks and recreation grant to the town of Aberdeen;
■ $1,499,000 for the construction of the Samarcand live-fire training facility for law enforcement and school safety officers;
■ $2,000,000 to renovate and convert a Moore County facility into a juvenile detention center associated with Raise the Age legislation; and
■ $12,314,557 for additional construction at Moore County Schools.
The passage of the state budget should not be contingent on any one issue. Expanding government-run Medicaid in North Carolina would be costly and result in either higher levels of deficit spending or a substantial increase in taxes. It would also put traditional health program enrollees at risk and would ultimately be a temporary fix for our very complex and fragmented health care system.
While I have serious concerns about the negative impact of expanding Medicaid, I do welcome a debate on its merits and other ways to address health care challenges in our state. That is why we included in our budget a provision for the governor to call the General Assembly back into special session, specifically to discuss Medicaid and other health care reforms.
There are serious questions surrounding Medicaid expansion, and I believe there is a better, more comprehensive solution for North Carolina. The legislature will continue to explore and fight for health care in North Carolina. We plan to make informed decisions to increase care, expand access and reduce costs for hardworking individuals across the state.
At the end of the day, the governor vetoed a good budget for Moore County and hard-working people across the state. It was approved by a bipartisan majority in both chambers of the General Assembly, and it is important we do not hold the entire budget hostage over a separate issue like Medicaid expansion.
That is why it is critical we override the governor’s veto to ensure raises for state employees — the largest in a decade — and other important projects for Moore County move forward. Politics aside, this budget impasse is hurting our students, our teachers and North Carolina as a whole. The veto blocks a 5 percent biennium raise for state employees, $4.4 billion for school construction, $112 million for disaster relief, and a 3.9 percent raise for teachers over the biennium.
As we debate the budget, let us not forget that the Cooper administration said our last budget would create a “fiscal crisis” and “blow a $600 million hole.” In reality, it has led to a nearly $700 million surplus — the largest revenue growth since 2005.
Under Republican leadership, North Carolina’s economy is booming. We have balanced the budget and cut taxes while still saving for future disasters and economic downturns. In fact, a recent CNBC report said, “No state’s economy is on more solid ground than the Tar Heel State.” Now is not the time to turn back. Let’s override the governor’s veto and keep the momentum going.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to my legislative office, (919) 733-5903, if you have any questions about the budget itself or the budget process.
Jamie Boles (R-Moore) represents House District 52 in the N.C. General Assembly.