RALEIGH – After two trial balloons in the form of override votes on vetoed supplemental funding and regulatory bills were shot down by Democrats, leaders of the N.C. Senate pulled the big budget off the calendar and back to committee. The result, as expected, is another stretch with no budget in place, and no indication that Governor Roy Cooper and the Democrats plan to release the hostage unless ransom is paid in the form of Medicaid expansion and blank check spending binges. So the stand off continues.
The Senate did manage to unanimously concur with legislation to supplement funding for a program offering scholarships to children of veterans. Those scholarships were being neglected, with tuition assistance to kids of veterans being cut by 50 percent with out warning, sending students and parents scrambling to pay an unexpected bill. The extra funding will alleviate the problem in the short term, but not necessarily the fiscal practices that lead to such issues in the first place.
The the Senate adjourned. So now what?
While there are a few committee and task force meetings on the calendar, the House and Senate are not scheduled to reconvene until the end of April, after all primary elections. That means, in all likelihood, that the budget stalemate is on autopilot for the next three months unless an unforeseen reconciliation is in the offing. That’s three more months of automatic funding at previous budget levels. Imagine if the stalemate lasted long enough to effectively reduce state spending? Of course, the 2020 elections will come before then, and hopefully the impediment to sensible, conservative governance will be shown the exit.
For now the Republican legislative leaders and Governor Cooper both seem comfortable in their stance, most ready to turn to campaigning for the March primary.