Raleigh, N.C. — The House voted Thursday to override one of Gov. Beverly Perdue's vetoes from last year, marking the eighth time the chamber has passed a bill over her objections.
House Bill 7 allows community colleges in North Carolina to opt out of the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program.
Perdue vetoed the legislation in April 2011, but the House voted 71-46 to override it. The bill moves to the Senate, where Republicans hold enough votes to override it as well.
When Democrats controlled the legislature in 2010, they passed a law requiring the 58 community colleges across the state to participate in the student loan program. At the time, only 20 of the schools made federal loans available to students.
“House Bill 7 gives community colleges more flexibility to conduct financial aid as they see fit,” House Speaker Thom Tillis said in a statement. “It is a bill that many community colleges have requested, and the governor’s veto has resulted in many local bills having to be passed to accommodate the colleges."
Perdue said the override adds to previous moves that have made the Republican-led General Assembly "the most anti-public education legislature in North Carolina history."
"After cutting school funding and forcing the layoffs of more than 900 teachers and 2,000 teacher assistants, after punishing teachers for daring to oppose education cuts, after pushing a reform plan based on more requirements and less money and after proposing to raid the funds available for public schools in order to shell out a tax cut to corporations that give money to private schools, now the Republican legislature has closed a path to career training or college for potentially thousands of students," she said in a statement. "Public education is about opening doors for our young people – not slamming them. This is not the way to prepare our young people for a 21st century economy.”
Minority Leader Joe Hackney protested the override vote, saying the House was violating a provision in the state constitution by waiting 14 months before taking up Perdue's veto.
Other Democrats also argued unsuccessfully that community college students in North Carolina need greater access to student loans to get the training they need to obtain jobs.
"Community colleges are the key to training and retraining our workforce, and our citizens need access to these resources now more than ever," Walton Robinson, spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a statement. "By stripping away the financial aid options available to community college students, it is clear that Republicans are deliberately attempting to harm middle-class students and stifle our economic recovery."