Editorial: Legislators - Bribes don't work. Stop budget spin. Sincerely negotiate with Gov. Cooper

Posted July 30, 2019 5:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2019 8:35 a.m. EDT

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, left, and House Speaker Tim Moore

CBC Editorial: Tuesday, July 30, 2019; Editorial #8448
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

Rather than appealing to the angels of our better nature, the leaders of the General Assembly have gone whole-hog to override the governor’s veto.

Touring the state, in statements for news reports as well as commentary and columns placed throughout the state, legislators are echoing the talking points coming out of Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore’s offices. They warn funding for $383.1 million in pet projects in home districts – known as pork barrel -- are in jeopardy because of Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto. Only an override will assure the projects are funded.

These statements and commentaries fail to reveal that the same legislators had little or no interest in funding most of the projects – regardless of their worthiness – until they desperately needed a ploy to attack Gov. Roy Cooper.

It is their own work that leaves a clear trail of evidence. Nearly all of 531-suddenly-vital local projects were not a part of the 897-page budget the state House passed in early May. Nor were most of them in the 917-page budget bill the Senate passed about a month later. They mysteriously appeared in a 1,015-page bill manufactured by a behind-the-scenes conference committee.

There was no public discussion over selection of these projects and no evidence of local public meetings to determine best uses for the suddenly available funds for local projects and organizations.

The local funding, scraps of local funding tossed out by the leadership to a handful of Democrats as a Hail-Mary effort to sway votes to override Cooper’s veto, have been recognized for what they are. An open and unabashed effort to buy votes.

Legislators, in their news releases and commentaries have sought to portray their budget, and the local pet projects embedded in it, as “a big win” for localities. What they disguise is that the budget, in its entirety, is another loser for North Carolina.

Cooper didn’t veto the budget over some partisan or regional feud. He vetoed the bill because it fails – as have the budgets the legislature’s passed much of the last decade – to meet the most basic needs. The budget falls far short of providing a quality education for North Carolina’s school children; short-changes our public universities and community colleges; leaves the state’s environment and public spaces under-funded, fails to provide for the proper staffing and safety of our prisons and continues to jeopardize the health of more than a half-million citizens by not expanding Medicaid.

It is a budget that prioritizes more big and unnecessary tax cuts for corporations at the cost of the most basic obligations state government has to its citizens.

North Carolinians know when they are being bought off. They also know when they are being short-changed, misled and sold down the river. They aren’t suckers.

It is past time for legislative leaders to end their public relations spinning, stalling and desperation to override Cooper’s budget veto.

The governor earlier this month made a sincere counter offer on the budget. It is Berger and the other legislative leaders who declare anything from Cooper as dead upon arrival, refuse to negotiate and spend their time churning out news releases.

Start open and sincere discussions with the governor about how best to expand Medicaid, take care of the other obligations that have too-long been neglected AND fund ALL the local projects that have been promised.

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