GOP leaders seek override of budget-cut veto
Posted March 9, 2011 5:08 p.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2011 7:31 p.m. EST
The state Senate has voted on party lines, 31-19, to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of Senate Bill 13. That's the measure that would have given Perdue emergency budget cutting powers, but would have taken $137 million from various funds, more than half of it from money earmarked for economic development.
Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis rolled out the S13 veto vote on very short notice today. They said it was necessitated by Gov. Perdue's plan to borrow $100 million from the state's unemployment fund to cover cash-flow needs for tax refunds.
Here's the video of their press conference:
On the floor this afternoon, Berger called Perdue's use of unemployment funds "a clear constitutional violation." If someone took the state to court over it, he said, taxpayer refunds could be delayed. He says Senate Bill 13 would give Perdue access to immediate cash from the fund balances to cover cash flow without any risk of a legal holdup.
Sen. Richard Stevens, R-Wake, said the governor had other options. "Why didn't she go to the Council of State and borrow the money through tax anticipation loans? She could have done that."
But Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, pointed out that passing SB 13 would not yield immediate cash. The measure says the money must be made available June 30th, he said, too late to cover refunds for taxpayers. “This bill does nothing – absolutely nothing – to pay them back.”
"Why are we doing this?" asked Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, "Is it because the House has on their calendar a proposed veto for H2 [the anti-healthcare mandate bill] that they’re not confident they can override? Are we trying to smack down on the governor?"
The House vote is likely to be tougher. Tillis says his caucus doesn't have the votes needed for an override.