News: Quick Takes

Governor asks court to declare parts of state budget unconstitutional

In amended complaint, Cooper says legislature violated separation-of-powers in several budget provisions

Gov. Roy Cooper, presenting his 2017-18 budget. (CJ photo by Barry Smith)
Gov. Roy Cooper, presenting his 2017-18 budget. (CJ photo by Barry Smith)

The battle between the Republican-led General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper intensified Tuesday.

Cooper filed a new brief asking the state Supreme Court to overrule several portions of the budget passed in June over his veto, saying the budget provisions violated separation of powers.

The filing in Cooper v. Berger challenges three parts of the budget:

• a provision declaring that the governor’s budget must increase funds for the Opportunity Scholarship Program by at least $10 million annually for the next decade. Cooper says the legislature cannot tell him what he has to include in his budget;

• several provisions designating how to spend money from several federal block grants that Cooper says are under his control, and;

• a provision saying the General Assembly must approve $87 million the state received as part of a nationwide settlement with Volkswagen over faked emissions reporting. According to the governor, the settlement gives him the authority to pick which state agencies will get the money.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, in a statement, said the governor is trying to limit the General Assembly’s powers.

“Today Gov. Cooper asked our court system to anoint him as both the governor and the legislature at the same time. We expect the judiciary will see through his thinly veiled power grab, follow the constitution, and dismiss this frivolous lawsuit,” the statement said.

The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in Cooper v. Berger on Aug. 28.