Today @NCCapitol (7/11): Veto threats, budget gimmicks
Posted July 11, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Friday, July 11. Here's what's going on at the state legislature and around state government.
WAS THAT A THREAT? Yes, yes it was.
Budget battle sharpens with veto threat "I will veto the latest Senate plan or any plan that resembles it because I know of no financial way we can go beyond the House proposal without eliminating thousands of teacher assistants, cutting Medicaid recipients and putting at risk future core state services," Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement Thursday.
Senate leaders are sticking by their plain to raise teacher salaries by 11 percent next year. McCrory and House leaders say that would require unacceptable cuts to Medicaid and laying off roughly half of the state's teaching assistants in early grades. However, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger seemed unimpressed by McCrory's veto threat.
"I’m disappointed by the governor’s threat to veto the largest teacher pay raise in state history and surprised by his demand for a budget without cuts to teacher assistants and Medicaid – given that his own budget included almost $20 million in cuts to teacher assistants along with significant, though ultimately unachievable, cuts to Medicaid," Berger said in a statement. "The governor has been unable to sustain any of his previous vetoes in the Senate. It would be more helpful for him to work with members of both chambers of the legislature, since his unwillingness to listen to those who have an honest disagreement with him on spending priorities in favor of staging media stunts and budget gimmicks is a major reason the budget has not been finalized."
House leaders plan to hold a public hearing on their latest budget offer Friday morning, but they'll likely be talking to themselves. Neither Berger nor Senate Budget Chairman Harry Brown plan to attend. (UPDATE: The House canceled its public meeting in favor of a briefing session on its latest offer.)
Meanwhile, the Legislative Black Caucus called this week's contentious budget back-and-fort a "sideshow," and Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue described the discord among Republicans as "unhelpful bravado." He was not impressed with McCrory's veto threat either.
"Now, Governor McCrory has added another meaningless gesture to their stalemate. The House hasn’t agreed to the Senate budget. So, the Governor is threatening to veto a bill that he knows he will never see," Blue said. "Political theatre didn’t cause our teacher pay crisis; Governor McCrory, Thom Tillis and Phil Berger’s handouts to the wealthy and special interests did. And more empty rhetoric and political theatre now won’t solve this crisis. It’s time for these folks to tone down the bluster, acknowledge their failed priorities and pass a plan that puts teachers and students first."
HOUSE AND SENATE: There are no other legislative committee meetings on the calendar. The House and Senate are next scheduled to hold floor sessions on Monday.
MEDICAID: Family doctors in North Carolina are bracing for a looming deadline that will slash the amount they're paid for the treatment of the state's poor and disabled. On Jan. 1, a two-pronged state and federal cut to Medicaid reimbursement rates will mean a drop in payments of 15 percent or more for primary care physicians. Opponents of the cuts say they will return reimbursement rates to pre-2012 levels, a major hit for doctors considered a first line of defense against more costly medical care.
COAL ASH: The Senate on Thursday delayed action on the House version of a bill that would say how and when Duke Energy would have to clean up coal ash pits across the state. This was the latest of several delays, which some had taken as a sign senators were considering concurring with the House plan. "No, absolutely not," Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, said when asked if that was the case. The House bill provides less stringent deadlines than the Senate did and changes the makeup of a commission designed to oversee coal ash cleanup.
The measure is now on the Senate's calendar for Monday night.
THE GOVERNOR: McCrory will travel to Nashville, Tenn., for the National Governors Association Summer Meeting on Friday and Saturday.
COMMON CORE: The Senate voted 33-12 on Thursday to replace the controversial Common Core standards for K-12 education in North Carolina, backing a measure that stops short of an outright ban on the national standards.