Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, gave an impassioned defense of the $23 billion bipartisan General Fund budget compromise Wednesday morning, and the House quickly followed his motion to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the spending plan in a 76-43 vote.
It was an anticipated defeat for Cooper, a Democrat, whose last-minute, desperation plea for Republicans to oppose their legislative leaders in sustaining his veto fell flat.
Indeed, Reps. William Brisson, D-Bladen, and Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, crossed over to vote with Republicans on Wednesday. Rep. Ed Hanes, D-Forsyth, did not vote. When passing the budget 77-38 on June 22, four Democrats, including Brisson, voted with Republicans.
The Senate voted 34-14 along party lines to override the veto on Tuesday. Four Democrats sided with Republicans in a 39-11 vote to approve the budget June 21.
This marks the third time in North Carolina history the General Assembly has overridden the governor’s veto of the state budget. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue vetoed the budgets in 2011 and 2012. Both times she was overridden by a Republican-dominated legislature.
Dollar echoed comments Tuesday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, about the merits of the budget contained in Senate Bill 257. He said it includes provisions Cooper sought in education, tax fairness, and economic development.
Over the course of the two-year budget cycle there is “a substantial investment in the teachers, and in the people who serve this state, and in our retirees” through $1 billion in salary raises, and cost-of-living increases, Dollar said.
“We are not ashamed to say we are providing tax relief for middle-class, working families, and businesses” through a phased-in plan, he said.
Despite objections from Cooper and Democrats that the budget is irresponsible, Dollar said Republican policies have amassed surpluses of more than $400 million three years ago, $450 million last year, and more than $580 million this year.
“We are a growing place. We are a dynamic economy,” and people and businesses are voting with their feet to move here, Dollar said. “This budget moves forward on our shared goals of jobs, and economic growth, opportunity for the next generation, greater liberty and freedom.”
House Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake, took an opposite view in urging against the override.
“As in most budgets, there is good in the budget, but it is overshadowed by the bad,” Jackson said. He repeated Cooper’s complaints that the budget fails to raise teacher pay to the national average, and that tax breaks for the wealthy should be removed.