Raleigh, N.C. — Five House Democrats sided with Republicans and voted for the budget that Gov. Bev Perdue said she will veto today.
Rep. Marian McLawhorn, D-Pitt, was one of those five and perhaps the most unexpected of the group. Unlike Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, who has been angling for a video sweepstakes bill, or the four other Democrats who voted to override Perdue's veto of last year's budget bill, McLawhorn has stuck with her caucus on budget votes for the most part.
McLawhorn said that she voted to send the budget to Perdue because it contained raises for state employees and teachers, as well as a cost of living increase for retirees. Those were items, she said, that her constituents told her they favored.
That vote will put McLawhorn in the spotlight over the weekend and on Monday, as lawmakers decide how to deal with Perdue's veto. The governor has asked for supplemental budget bill that would add roughly $100 million in spending to the budget. The $20.2 billion spending plan wouldn't grow, but that money would either draw down savings or spend money tax "over-collections" that the governor and Republican leaders are arguing about.
"I'm not going to get into her specific items," McLawhorn said, although she added that she does like Perdue's push to spend more on K-12 education. That money, she said, would be helpful to schools in the coming fiscal year.
Whether she'll vote for an override, McLawhorn said, will depend on whether a deal can be worked out.
"I can't give you a definitive answer on how I'm going to vote, because I don't know what we'll be voting on yet," she said. "A lot is going to happen between now and Tuesday. I really wish that a compromise can be worked out over the weekend."
Republicans have said that in a worst case scenario, they would leave town an leave the 2011 budget in place. Technically, that is a two-year spending plan but it contains funding for the 2012-13 fiscal year that begins July 1. The Senate has already passed a measure that would appropriate lottery proceeds, lawsuit settlement funds and federal block grants but leave the rest of the 2011-12 budget in place.
That budget spends even less on education that the budget Perdue is about to veto.
"I think that's certainly something nobody wants to do, but that's the big question," she said.
As for when she casts her veto override vote, McLawhorn will only say, "I'll be using my best judgment."