GOP: Perdue never tried to compromise on budget

Posted June 16, 2011 5:42 p.m. EDT
Updated June 16, 2011 7:23 p.m. EDT

— One day after the General Assembly voted to override Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto of the state budget, Republican legislative leaders again rebuked Perdue on Thursday, saying she didn't try to negotiate with them on the final spending plan.

Perdue said the cuts to education were too deep in the $19.7 billion spending plan and that lawmakers should have extended a temporary one-cent increase to the state sales tax rate to avoid those cuts.

Five Democratic House members joined the Republican-led legislature to pass the budget over her objections, and House Speaker Thom Tillis called the override "the proudest moment of my political career" because of that bipartisanship.

"The reason those Democrats stuck with us (is) we negotiated in good faith," said Tillis, R-Mecklenburg. "We were looking for an opportunity to bridge the gap, (to) take as much of the politics out of a political process as we could, and the governor decided to stay political at the end of the day."

Perdue responded by insisting that the Republicans were the ones playing politics.

"I don't care what they're saying. This was the wrong ideological decision by the newly elected Republican leadership," she said.

Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has followed state politics for decades and said Perdue chose not to negotiate with Republican lawmakers.

"She separated herself from this budget in a way that governors haven't separated themselves from budgets previously," Guillory said. "She said, 'It's better for me and better for the state that I veto and then let the people judge.'"

The veto override will likely be an issue in the 2012 election, and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who lost to Perdue in 2008 and is a likely Republican candidate next year, quickly seized on it.

"With a veto override, she's becoming irrelevant," McCrory said, noting that he often worked with Democrat-controlled councils in Charlotte.

Guillory said the fallout from the budget cuts the Republicans made could still turn the tide in Perdue's favor by next year.

"The Democrats and the Democratic governor have suffered a loss here, but it's not a final loss," he said.