News: Quick Takes

Cooper again rebuffs legislature’s budget priorities

Gov. Roy Cooper (CJ file photo)
Gov. Roy Cooper (CJ file photo)

UPDATED, 4:10 p.m., with a statement from Republican legislative leaders.

In a news release issued Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper’s spokesman made it clear: Medicaid expansion must be part of any General Fund budget he signs.

Cooper also rejected “corporate tax cuts, corporate tax cuts, unaccountable school vouchers, and the SCIF slush fund and said that any budget compromise has to include discussion of Medicaid expansion, a school and infrastructure bond and significantly higher teacher salaries,” said spokesman Ford Porter.

It’s the clearest signal to date Cooper will veto the Republican-led General Assembly’s General Fund budget for 2019-21, now in a conference committee.

Senate budget writers prefer boosting spending the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) rather than new debt to finance infrastructure construction and repairs. They also reduced the franchise tax for businesses. The House and Senate have committed to fund Opportunity Scholarships for the next decade; Cooper opposes private school choice for K-12 students.

In a statement emailed to Carolina Journal, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said:

This morning we met with the governor and we brought a list of negotiating positions on topline budget targets, capital spending, taxes, teacher and state employee salaries, public education, and the rainy day fund. Despite repeated requests, the governor did not come to the meeting with any specific positions on anything other than Medicaid expansion.

Regarding that issue, we offered to include in the budget a provision to convene a special session to address health access issues, including Medicaid expansion. The governor previously proposed a ‘two-track’ solution and wants Medicaid to be ‘part of the conversation.’ This meets both of those requests. The governor rejected the proposal.

We’ve asked for concrete compromise proposals from the governor for nearly two weeks now. He has refused to provide them. The governor did take our opening positions back with him. Legislators asked that he fill out his compromise offers, and hopefully he shares them quickly. We need specifics. We hope he responds soon.

Moore has suggested the budget compromise may be introduced early next week. To override a veto, a unified GOP caucus will need to convince at least one Democratic senator and seven Democratic House members to defy the governor.