Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank, is one of the five Democrats who voted for the House budget bill last month. All five have indicated they're likely to vote to approve the Senate version Friday as well. (The other Dems are Crawford, Hill, Brisson and Spear.)
Sources within leadership of both parties say Gov. Bev Perdue is"extremely unhappy" with the breakaway Dems, who essentially stole her thunder by brokering their own budget deal with Republican House and Senate leaders over the holiday weekend.
Owens is an old friend of Perdue's, but, he admitted, "I got fussed at." The Pasquotank Democrat said he’s been in elected office, local and state, for 35 years, and he’s always voted for budgets, even those he didn’t like. “My philosophy is, if you don’t like it, get in there and fix it,” he said. “That’s what we did.”
He said the Party of 5 didn’t get what it wanted until Monday morning: $300 million for K-12, $100 million for the university system, and $50 million for Golden Leaf.
Owens said he was motivated by concerns about a potential government shutdown. If July 1st rolled around without a budget, Owens said, “All that non-recurring money goes away. And a lot of things in state government are funded with non-recurring money.”
And if the GOP stuck to its earlier continuing resolution proposal, he said, a 13% spending cut would have been far worse than the $230 million gap between her proposal and the budget compromise. He said the difference in K-12 funding between H200 and Perdue’s proposal is even smaller - maybe a half-percent.
Still, Owens thinks the Governor “will probably veto” the budget anyway.
If that happens, I asked, will the Democrats hang together to uphold it?
“I think us five will probably hang together,” Owens said.
To override the veto?
“Probably so,” he nodded.
"We're still friends, though," he was quick to add, saying he'll do everything he can to help Perdue get re-elected in 2012. "She's a good governor."