Cooper to veto 'small minded' state budget

Posted June 26
Updated June 27

— Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday that he plans to veto the $23 billion state budget that lawmakers passed last week, calling it "short sighted and small minded."

Cooper acknowledged that Republican legislative leaders have enough votes to override his veto, but he said he hopes to sway some moderate GOP lawmakers to uphold his veto and prompt negotiations on education funding and other issues.

"We need a budget that enables the big dreams of our people," Cooper said at a news conference. "We need a budget that helps us meet the potential of our state. Unfortunately, what the legislature passed and sent to me is not that budget."

Education funding is the biggest gripe the governor said he has with the budget, which he said "doesn't even come close" to funding his plan to raise average teacher salaries in North Carolina to the national average in five years. Although the budget includes what lawmakers have said is a 9.5 percent average increase over the next two years, Cooper called their plan a "budget gimmick mirage" that leaves out beginning and the most veteran teachers.

He also criticized lawmakers' decision to omit his proposed stipend for teachers to help buy classroom supplies, a lack of funding for teaching assistants, school nurses and school counselors and shifting more money into the Opportunity Scholarships private school voucher program.

"Teachers see through dishonest budget gimmicks," Cooper said as he was surrounded by a group of teachers at the Executive Mansion.

Brian Link, who has taught civics and economics for seven years at East Chapel Hill High School, is slated to get a $2,000 bump under the proposed budget, but he still opposes it.

"It gives tax cuts, not textbooks," Link said. "I think it's important to understand that, when teachers speak up, we’re speaking up on behalf of our kids."

Republican leaders last week dared Cooper to veto the budget, saying it meets several of his stated spending priorities while suggesting the governor is more interested in political posturing.

"By rejecting our fourth consecutive teacher pay raise – this time totaling 10 percent on average – a major middle-class tax cut and much-needed Hurricane Matthew relief, Gov. Cooper has broken some of his biggest promises to the voters, and they will hold him accountable. We will too, by quickly overriding his veto," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore said Monday in a joint statement.

Cooper said there are portions of the budget he supports, such as the renewal of the Teaching Fellows program, raises for principals, expanded access to pre-kindergarten programs – he said he would have expanded it more – incentives for business recruitment.

"On balance, it's not the direction I envision for our state. Simply put, this budget shortchanges our state at a time when it doesn't have to," he said. "It prioritizes tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations and comes up short for education and the economy."

The budget calls for lowering the individual and corporate income tax rates in 2019, raising the standard deduction and some other changes. Cooper said those moves would "blow a $600 million hole in our budget" within a few years.

The governor said he would sign the budget if the following changes are made:

  • The corporate tax cut is eliminated, the individual tax cut is limited to people making less than $150,000 a year and lawmakers add in a childcare tax credit.
  • Teacher pay raises are "fully funded," including starting teachers and veteran educators, and more money is earmarked for school support personnel and classroom supplies.
  • Include money for expanding broadband internet access to rural areas.
  • Phase out the Opportunity Scholarships program.

"This list doesn't come close to covering all the concerns I have with this budget," he said, "but the changes that I propose today would reflect more of the vision that this state demands."

"It's disappointing that the governor chose to do this," Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown said. "I feel certain the people will be disappointed, and we’ll have to do our job, override that veto and pass this budget."

If lawmakers override the veto, Cooper said, he will take what positives he can from the budget and "work to fight another battle on another day," notably Election Day in 2018.

"If they do push the budget through, we'll be taking our case to the people," he said.


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  • Charlie Watkins Jun 27, 12:51 p.m.
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    A tax & spend Governor like Roy will never be satisfied without tax increases and spending levels at record highs.

  • Kyle Clarkson Jun 27, 9:38 a.m.
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    State employees: 3% raise in 5 years. (2013 - 2018)

    Teachers: 24% raise in 5 years. (2013 - 2018)

    Something is wrong here. State employees should probably invest in better lobbyists.

  • Eric Rothman Jun 26, 4:18 p.m.
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    I haven't read the bill yet so I I will not comment on the actual bill itself. I would lean more conservative than liberal but I guess mostly a moderate. The sad thing is this could be the greatest Bill known to man. This could be the greatest bill that is ever been written. And whichever side wrote it, the other side will say it's trash, nad, and terrible NO NATTER WHAT!

  • Robert Malton Jun 26, 2:48 p.m.
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    Democrat spend, spend, and tax more to pay for the spending.

  • D. Aaron Hill Jun 26, 2:26 p.m.
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    View quoted thread


  • Patrick Gentry Jun 26, 2:04 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I agree that Governor McCroy and the General Assembly have taken NC from crisis to property, but I have to disagree that McCroy's loss was due to HB2.

    Lt. Governor Dan Forest stumped for and supported HB2 just as much as Governor McCroy and he didn't lose his re-election. Neither did the leadership of the General Assembly though they are more insulted because they are not statewide races.

    McCroy got cheated, he lead the race by almost 85,000 votes all night until Durham "magically" found 90,000+ ballots at midnight that gave Cooper the win.

    It was a rigged election, because unelected liberal Federal Judges gutted our election laws right before the election to allow massive fraud like happened in Durham.

    It was just like the national election how they didn't update any tallies for almost 2.5 hours as the DNC tried to didn anyway to rig a few precinct results in PA to keep Trump from winning.

  • Jason Merrill Jun 26, 1:57 p.m.
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    Now that it is vetoed, the veto will be overturned and the budget will be law. All this posturing did is further ingratiate Cooper with the ones that voted for him...if only McCrory had vetoed HB2, Cooper would never been elected...yes the GA would have overrode that veto then, but it would have made McCrory look better in the eyes of some who used it as a basis to vote against him...for the record I was completely against HB2, but I did vote for Pat as he did lead the state out of trouble and all I see is Cooper leading us back down that sane bad road.

  • Patrick Gentry Jun 26, 1:56 p.m.
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    Just more political grandstanding and more temper tantrums from the lame duck Governor.

    He can hope he isn't overridden again all he wants but this budget had bipartisan support, not widespread bipartisan support but still it wasn't purely voted on party lines.

    It's a good budget and it is reasonable and sensible, just another defeat for the illegitimate Governor of North Carolina.

    2020 can't come soon enough, maybe by than we will finally have Voter ID laws in place and Durham County won't be able to magically come up with 90,000 votes at midnight to steal an election.

  • Wayne Hill Jun 26, 11:53 a.m.
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    For the next four years Gov. Cooper will be like the Gabby Hayes character in Western's. His voice will be nothing more than comedic relief.

    Let's see before the Republicans and McCrory came in there was a deficit, and now there is a surplus. That's is all a the taxpaying citizens need to know Mr. Cooper.

  • Tom Marthers Jun 26, 9:55 a.m.
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    What a Clown. 9.5% raise for Teachers, that is more than they got before, granted, it might not be up to par with what they should get, but it is a start as I don't want my taxes going up anymore than anyone else, and state workers got a raise, and COLA for State Retirees, and there is a Rainy Day fund, now come on COOPER, get you head out of your head out of 4th point of contact. Not everything can be done at once, it takes time to build and keep the STATE out of dept like the Federal Govt, debt ceiling out of control.