N.C. Republicans won't fight Perdue's veto

Posted February 22, 2011 3:50 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2011 8:31 p.m. EST

— Republican legislative leaders say they won't try to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of Senate Bill 13, a measure that would have expanded Perdue's budget powers while taking about $75 million out of state economic development funds.

Senate Bill 13 would have collected about $540 million to help bridge next year's estimated $2.4 billion budget gap. About $400 million would have come from cuts Perdue said she could make in current-year spending and reserves. The balance would have been taken from a long list of special funds, including three used to support job recruitment and economic development 

“This bill started out as a way to help North Carolina secure $400 million in additional savings from state government agencies during this difficult budget time,” Perdue said in a statement. “I suggested that bill to the General Assembly and was ready to sign that legislation. But the bill in its current form forces a one-time cash-grab from funds that are intended to create jobs and spur economic development. That’s not the right move for North Carolina, where jobs simply must be our No. 1 priority.”

Republican legislative leaders argued that the funding cuts wouldn't hurt job recruitment. But Democrats said thousands of new jobs would be at risk if businesses backed out of negotiations here and moved on to other states.

House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, was "happy to hear" about the veto. 

"No matter what the proponents of the bill say, it does and has already put a stop to job creation efforts out of the Department of Commerce. We just don’t want that in this recessionary era," he said. 

Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said the veto "makes it more difficult to balance the state’s budget without cutting teachers’ jobs and negatively impacting our classrooms."  But he said Republicans would not try to override the veto, acknowledging they couldn't muster the needed three-fifths vote in the House.  

Instead, leaders have filed a new measure requiring Perdue to hold back $538 million from the current-year budget – the same amount as Senate Bill 13 would have saved – but letting her decide where the cuts should be made.  

Reactions to Perdue's veto

House Speaker Thom Tillis said he was disappointed in Perdue's veto. 

"She has said as recently as last week that she is committed to balancing the budget and protecting the jobs of teachers and state employees. But with this veto, the Governor makes balancing the budget more difficult, and makes it harder to protect teachers and state employees," he said in a statement. 

State Democratic Party Chairman David Parker said the party stands behind Perdue's veto.

"In doing so, she has shown her resolve to stand up to the foolhardy actions of Republican financiers and their temporary majority in the General Assembly," he said in a statement.

Senate Democratic Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, also supported Perdue.

"Without a doubt, we need to cut state spending to balance the budget. But a bill that eliminates funding for critical job creation programs is a threat to our economic future," Nesbitt said in a statement."The only way out of the mess we’re in is to grow our way out. We can’t expect to see economic expansion if we cut the very programs that bring new jobs and new investment to North Carolina."