Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue called a rare Sunday press conference to haul out the veto stamp before the cameras this afternoon, rejecting the first GOP-written budget in more than 100 years. It's the first budget veto in state history.
Perdue said the state budget "is more than a roadmap. It’s a reflection of our values. It’s a reflection of what we believe in."
"For the first time, NC has a legislature that’s turning its back on our schools, our children, our longstanding investments in education."
Perdue said the cuts in the GOP's "ideologically driven" $19.7 billion dollar plan would harm classrooms, turn kids away from preschools, and close college programs, causing "generational damage" to the state's schools.
And she stressed that cuts in other areas would be damaging, too, from emergency response to law enforcement to the courts - "not just education, but our communities, our environment, our public safety system, and our ability to care for those that need us the most.” Gov. Perdue explains her veto of state budget
Perdue again called on lawmakers to consider extending part of a temporary one-cent sales tax to avoid some of the deepest cuts.
“Yeah, I understand these difficult economic times demand that we all tighten our belts and face up to tough economic choices,” she said. "But I don’t believe you can move NC forward…without balance and reason. And I don’t believe this budget provides either."
Watch the video of her budget announcement at right.
Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis issued the following response via email:
“We’re disappointed in the Governor’s veto today. Gov. Perdue has had access to this budget for almost two weeks, and she should have made this decision days ago to help provide certainty to counties and school boards across the state.
"She has shown no leadership on this issue and no willingness to work with the legislature, choosing instead to veto a budget that protects education and creates jobs. We look forward to overriding the Governor’s last-minute veto very soon.”
Republican Senate Leader Phil Berger sent out this emailed response:
“The same governor who claims to champion job creation and public education has vetoed a bipartisan budget that does more for both causes than her own proposal. The only explanation for this veto and her statewide media campaign is that the governor believes it is more important to energize her liberal base than to govern responsibly.
"By placing politics ahead of the public interest, she engages in obstruction of the worst kind, and we will act quickly to move North Carolina forward.”
The budget bill, H200, now goes back to the House, where Republicans will try to hold on to the 5 Democratic votes they'll need to override the veto. The Party of Five - Dems Jim Crawford, Bill Owens, Bill Brisson, Dewey Hill, and Tim Spear - have signaled they're likely to vote with the GOP majority to override the veto, putting the budget into law over the Governor's protests.