Raleigh, N.C. — Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the General Assembly's $19.7 billion, two-year budget Sunday afternoon. After a reiteration of her belief that investment in education has been the hallmark of North Carolina's success, Perdue said, "I will not put my name on a plan that so blatantly ignores the values that have built this great North Carolina."
Her move appears to set up an override vote as early as Tuesday in the General Assembly.
“We’re disappointed in the governor’s veto today," House Speaker Tom Tillis said in a statement.
He criticized Perdue's delay in deciding on the veto, saying that "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."
The Republican majority appears to have the support for an override. They hold a super majority in the Senate, strong enough to override a veto. In the House, the GOP is four votes short of a super-majority, but five Democrats voted for the bill when it passed, making it appear veto-proof.
"The General Assembly, many of them, may be satisfied with a state moving in reverse, but I am not," Perdue said.
State law requires the budget to be approved by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
Since the budget's passage on June 4, Perdue has said she was carefully reviewing the plan. She publicly criticized the budget several times this week, saying that its education spending makes her "sad for our state and our people."
"This budget is a living document," Perdue said Sunday. "It is a reflection of our values as North Carolina."
For the governor, those values include investment in education. Education spending and closing a $2.4 billion projected shortfall have been at the center of the budget debate.
Perdue has pushed for an extension of sales taxes intended to be temporary as a means of retaining teachers' jobs. The Republican majority, many of whom ran on a platform of lowered taxes, emphasized the need to find savings rather that maintain that tax.
Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, backed the governor's veto.
"Gov. Perdue placed herself squarely in the company of North Carolina's great education leaders today when she vetoed the budget Republican legislators put on her desk," he said.
The budget bill reduces funding for school administrators and support staff by $120 million and adds money to hire 1,100 new teachers in early grades. Republicans point out this budget spends $300 million more on public schools and $100 million on the University of North Carolina System than an earlier House version.
Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, issued a statement blasting the governor's move as partisan pandering.
“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," he said.
Senate Democrats contend the bill would eliminate jobs in the public sector. They cite documents from public schools, including the University of North Carolina system and community colleges, saying the Senate budget would eliminate 13,000 positions.
Republicans also expect the state to gain tens of thousands of private-sector jobs from letting the temporary sales tax expire and offering a small-business tax break.
Perdue has also criticized the budget for consolidating and cutting spending on early childhood education programs Smart Start and More at Four.
"Now for the first time, North Carolina has a legislature that's turning its back on our schools, our children, our long-standing investments in education and our future economic prospects," she said.