NC’s GOP-dominated legislature forbids budget dissent from Democrats, including governor

by WorldTribune Staff, May 30, 2018

Republicans are using their veto-proof majority in North Carolina in a first to push through a budget while refusing amendments from Democrats, a report said.

NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, left, and NC House Speaker Tim Moore

NC Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and NC House Speaker Tim Moore have said they plan to hold a vote on the $23 billion budget this week, the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

“As long as enough of their fellow Republicans go along with that plan in the next few days, the budget will pass and can also survive a potential veto from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, since Republicans hold a veto-proof supermajority in both the Senate and House of Representatives,” the News & Observer said.

Democratic Rep. Chaz Beasley of Charlotte tweeted on May 29: “Preventing input from the body is no way to run a state – precisely why this has never been done. Silencing the membership is wrong, regardless of who’s in charge.”

Shelly Carver, a spokeswoman for Berger, said “It’s clear Gov. Cooper and legislative Democrats are upset they won’t be able to abuse that process to try to score political points in an election year, but lawmakers of both parties will have the opportunity to vote on the bill and make their voices heard.”

Republicans used their supermajority to override Cooper’s veto of last year’s budget.

All NC General Assembly seats are being contested in this year’s midterm elections. Democrats need to gain four House seats or six Senate seats to break the Republican supermajorities.

Gerry Cohen, former head of the bill-drafting division in the legislature, said: “I just read the bill status pages for all budgets starting in 1985 to date. There was no case where the bill was not open to amendment on the House and Senate floors.”

Cohen noted that on only three occasions in the past 34 years had one of the chambers adopted the other’s budget without amending it. But, he added, there is no case law that would invalidate the Republicans’ approach.

The Republicans’ budget includes a 6.5 percent average pay raise for teachers and a 6.9 percent average raise for principals, the News & Observer report said.

Principals would also now be able to receive performance-based bonuses of up to $20,000 a year. Some teachers in select grades and subjects would also be able to receive performance-based bonuses of up to $2,000, the report said.

In a press release on May 28, Berger said: “Cooper and legislative Democrats should add their support to this plan that prioritizes public education, provides a fifth consecutive teacher pay raise and offers substantial tax relief for millions of North Carolinians.”

Moore said in a May 28 press release: “These budget adjustments secure a strong financial future for North Carolina by sustainably increasing state investments while ensuring relief for taxpayers, a balanced approach that has consistently proven successful in growing our economy, producing revenue surpluses and saving a record rainy day reserve.”

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