McCrory vetoes bills as he seeks infrastructure bond support
Posted May 29, 2015
Updated May 30, 2015
Winterville, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory has vetoed two bills within 24 hours, eliciting disappointment and anger from the same lawmakers the governor wants to approve his plans for a statewide vote on about $3 billion in bonds to upgrade highways and state buildings.
McCrory justified his veto of a bill that would give magistrates and county workers a way around dealing with same-sex marriages by saying public employees need to carry out the duties of their offices. He said he doesn't want to discourage workers from reporting illegal activity at their companies, so he vetoed a bill that would allow firms to sue employees who record undercover videos at their workplaces.
Lawmakers expressed more outrage over the workplace whistleblower veto, but McCrory can ill afford any more friction with the General Assembly – he's already locked in a lawsuit with legislators over appointment powers to some state commissions – if he hopes to persuade a majority in both the House and the Senate to support his effort to put bond referendums on the November ballot.
McCrory wants voters to approve more than $1 billion in bonds for some highway projects that he says will boost economic activity in rural parts of the state and another $1.4 billion to upgrade aging state buildings and facilities.
"We need to talk about the next 20 to 25 years," McCrory told an audience at Pitt Community College on Friday.
The governor has been meeting with groups statewide in recent weeks to build momentum for his bond push. He was joined Friday by Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Budget Director Lee Roberts.
"There are some legislators who just said, 'We're not going to do it,'" McCrory said of approving the bond proposals. "It's my responsibility and it's my team's responsibility to help educate the public and help educate the legislators to let the public know the consequences of no action."
McCrory cited a recent poll that showed 65 percent public support for the bonds.
The poll was conducted by the Renew North Carolina Foundation, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit created shortly after McCrory's 2012 election that has touted the work he has done on issues ranging from the economy to education. The McCrory administration hasn't released any information on how the poll was conducted or other details of its findings.
Democratic consultant Brad Crone said the bonds would be politically valuable for McCrory, as highway projects would bring jobs and development to various parts of the state as the 2016 election approaches.
"That would be good politics for the governor, good policy for the Republicans," Crone said.
Still, he noted that many political observers believe "the governor's tacking to the center" on spending issues related to economic development, which puts him at odds with the more conservative leaders in the state Senate.
"I think the biggest hurdle that the governor faces is going to be interaction with the Senate leadership. How do you bridge that gap?" Crone said.