Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Bev Perdue gave a hastily called news conference today in which she called for lawmakers to "do better" for education.
She wasn't specific as to what "better' might entail and declined to say whether she would veto the budget if lawmakers don't find more money.
"I'm calling on them to do more for the children of North Carolina," Perdue said.
Perdue met with House Speaker Tillis and Senate President Pro Temp Phil Berger last week. In an interview Monday night, Berger described it as "a nice conversation" but would not disclose details.
Perdue said she asked them to find more money for K-12 education than the budget sitting on her desk would do.
"I didn't even ask them to come half way," Perdue said.
Tillis and Berger sent a joint reply today:
"We sincerely appreciate the time you spent with us last Thursday and the spirit in which you recommended changes to our budget. There is not a consensus in support of your changes in the legislature. We hope you will give the budget before you careful consideration. It advances many of North Carolina's priorities and we hope you will sign it."
In the run up to today's announcement, many hoped Perdue would announce whether she would sign or veto the budget. If she does nothing, the budget bill will become law at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning.
Rather she declined to be specific.
"Today is not about a veto," Perdue said. "I'm not being evasive. I'm just trying to keep folks in the direction we need to go."
Immediately after Perdue's presser, Republicans blasted Perdue.
“Perdue’s press conference today posed more questions than it answered, and was a complete waste of time.” said Scott Laster, the Republican Party's Executive Director.
Tillis and Berger put out a statement calling on Perdue to sign the budget:
“If Gov. Perdue truly cares about the best interests of North Carolina, she will sign this budget. From students attending public schools, to drivers filling up their tanks, to Medicaid patients recovering in our hospitals, every North Carolinian benefits from this budget. A veto would show that Gov. Perdue is more interested in playing politics than in budgeting responsibly.”
Should Perdue veto the budget bill, it's unclear if enough House Democrats would side with her to uphold the veto. And even if her veto holds, lawmakers say the two-year budget passed in 2011 would still be in effect. They could leave that measure in place, even though it would spend even less on schools and other programs than the bill about which Perdue is complaining.