House Dems: We'll be united

House Democratic leaders said today their caucus will stand behind Gov. Perdue if she vetoes Senate Bill 13.

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Laura Leslie

NC House Democrats rolled out their agenda Tuesday, three weeks after the session started.

Authored by Deborah Ross (Wake), Larry Womble (Forsyth) and Joe Tolson (Edgecombe), the four-point plan is very broadly drawn: Create jobs, protect education, defend critical services for vulnerable citizens and “protect the rights of all North Carolinians.”

The details that emerged from Tuesday afternoon’s press conference were a lot more interesting:

  • House Dems, like their Senate colleagues, were “surprised” by Perdue’s State of the State proposal to cut corporate tax rates.
  • Minority Leader Joe Hackney believes his caucus agenda will likely require additional revenue from an extension of temporary sales and income taxes.
  • House Dems don’t have a caucus position on raising the cap on charter schools, but most are concerned about charter governance, diversity requirements and the danger of decapitalizing existing public schools to pay for new charters.
  • Hackney believes House Dems would uphold Governor Perdue’s veto of S13, the “Balanced Budget Act of 2011.”

Perdue's office says the governor hasn't yet made a decision about whether to veto the bill. But House Democrats are hoping she will. As Hackney pointed out, the caucus was united in voting against S13 when the House passed it. He’s confident they’ll stand together again if it comes back on a veto vote.

Veto math

Passing S13 required only a majority vote, which the GOP easily has in both the House and Senate. But under the NC Constitution, overriding a veto requires a 3/5 vote in both chambers.

If Perdue vetoes S13, its first stop would be in the originating chamber, the Senate. The GOP holds 31 seats there, so getting to 3/5ths – 30 votes – shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

The House vote, on the other hand, could be a lot more dramatic. At 68 seats, House Republicans are four votes short of the 72 they’d need to override a veto. If House Democrats refuse to break ranks, they can uphold every veto for the rest of the two-year session.

That’s a big “if,” of course. At least four (and maybe more) House Dems are philosophically as close to the GOP as to their own caucus on many issues. And not every issue breaks neatly on partisan lines.

But Hackney says upholding a veto would be a party-line vote. We could know  early next week whether Perdue thinks so, too. 

Here's the video of the conference:


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