News: CJ Exclusives

Perdue Will Veto Budget, Urging Lawmakers To Boost Spending

Legislative leaders defend plan and say they'll try to override

RALEIGH – Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue on Friday said she planned to veto the budget adjustments passed by the GOP-dominated General Assembly.

“The budget doesn’t do enough to invest in our children’s future,” Perdue said during a morning press conference announcing her plans to veto the bill. She said that she had repeatedly reached out to legislative leaders to forge a compromise to no avail.

The veto throws into doubt a number of budget increases – including money to scale back public school cuts and pay raises for teachers and state employees – if legislative leaders are not able to muster enough support to override Perdue’s veto.

“The fact that she would reject hundreds of millions in additional state funding for public schools and Medicaid, a cut to the state gas tax and a raise for teachers and state employees proves she’s more interested in winning a political battle than in doing what’s right,” Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Thom TIllis, R-Mecklenburg, said in a joint statement released after Perdue’s announcement. “She turned her back on North Carolina’s children today, and we are working to secure the votes necessary to override this irresponsible veto.”

“If the budget they passed becomes law, schools across North Carolina will get about $190 million less than they got last year,” Perdue said. “This just isn’t good enough.”
Perdue said she supported the raises for teachers and state employees in the budget. But she said that some teachers and state employees would lose their jobs under the budget.

“Raises for some and pink slips for others is not the right thing, not the right direction for North Carolina,” Perdue said. She said she was vetoing the budget in the hopes that she could bring legislative leaders back to the table to increase investments in schools and jobs.

Tillis and Berger, in their statement, said that the veto would have consequences if it’s not overridden. Those consequences include schools losing $126.9 million to fill in discretionary cuts that were approved last year, the loss of 1.2 percent pay raises for teachers and state employees, money to pay for Medicaid cost overruns and a cut in the gasoline tax.

Perdue said she understood that the veto could result in schools having less money than they would have if the budget became law, adding that there’s still time to work out more budget details.

“This isn’t over yet,” Perdue said. “It doesn’t have to be over. … Let’s keep hoping.”

Barry Smith is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.