NC House Passes Stopgap Spending Bill, Partisan Divide Over Budget Remains Wide

Jul 10, 2019

Two Cumberland County representatives, Republican John Szoka, left, and Democrat Billy Richardson, talking during Wednesday's house session at the North Carolina General Assembly. House Republicans hope to win over some Democrats for an override of Gov. Roy Cooper's budget veto.
Credit Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The state house unanimously passed a spending bill Wednesday, but it wasn't the two-year budget plan vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper late last month.

The stopgap bill will cover fiscal obligations during the budget impasse, such as funding for public school enrollment growth.

Debate over the stopgap measure, however, put the partisan acrimony over the budget stalemate in stark relief.

Cooper and fellow Democrats criticize the Republican-backed budget plan for cutting the corporate franchise tax while failing to expand Medicaid. They also believe the budget should provide more for public school teacher pay. Democrats are hoping a veto override will fail and that Republicans will come to the negotiating table.

The governor unveiled a compromise spending plan that he says shows real flexibility on the part of Democrats. House Democratic leader Darren Jackson, of Wake County, promoted the governor's compromise offer during Wednesday's debate on the stopgap measure.

"The governor asked for no tax cut in his original proposal and yet on Tuesday he moved and agreed," Jackson said. "He agreed to the individual tax cut. Is that not a compromise?"

The governor, however, remains opposed to the Republican-supported cut to the corporate franchise tax.

Republicans remain committed to trying to get a few Democrats to cross party lines and join an override of the governor's veto. If all members of the 120-seat house are present, seven Democrats would have to defect to reach the three-fifths needed for an override.

In Wednesday's debate on the stopgap measure, a parade of Republicans pointed out what the supplemental appropriations bill would not cover, implicitly casting blame on Democrats for keeping key initiatives like disaster relief from getting funded under the budget.

"I don't believe this bill has any of the $90 million that we appropriated for school safety for our children across the state," said Rep. John Torbett (R-Gaston).

The stopgap measure now goes to the Senate. An override vote remains on the House calendar.