RALEIGH – Weeks into the new fiscal year, Governor Roy Cooper is still refusing to sign the two-year budget bill passed by the General Assembly early this summer because it’s doesn’t include his wish list of Big Government goodies. Republican lawmakers, whose majorities are no longer veto-proof, haven’t been able to convince enough Democrats to override the governor’s veto.
What to do? Well, it seems as if Republicans plan to pass the budget one piece at a time, forcing Cooper to sign or veto the most pressing parts of the budget, like education funding and teacher raises, or hurricane relief funds.
Cooper has been holding the budget hostage while demanding Medicaid expansion, but presenting him with standalone funding bills will put his brinkmanship on full display. He will undoubtedly accuse Republicans of playing games, but the charge rings hollow when lawmakers are literally working to fund the government.
The first standalone bill to move is indeed focused on state employee pay, specifically on the oft overlooked employees of the state prison system.
From Carolina Journal:
“[…] The General Assembly first attempted provision won unanimous approval from the Senate Appropriations/Base Budget Committee on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The move would raise salaries for state employees in prisons by 2.5% each of the next two years and also grant five additional leave days. Supporters say the bill would help alleviate prison staffing issues.
The measure passed the Senate Rules Committee Thursday. It should reach the full Senate early next week. […]”
Will Cooper veto long overdue raises for prison staff simply because the ‘prison staff pay increase’ bill doesn’t include Medicaid expansion?
Nearly 60 days into the budget standoff, it’s a wonder why Republican lawmakers didn’t move on standalone bills earlier if they knew it was available to them. Then again, it’s not as if the lack of a new budget with more spending has brought Raleigh or the State to a standstill. Current law dictates that, if a new budget is not passed by the end of a fiscal year, spending levels continue on at previous levels in perpetuity. With no debt-ceiling-like ultimatum, a cliff’s edge they like to walk up in Washington, D.C., lawmakers in Raleigh are thus more free to plan and act on alternatives to simply meeting Cooper’s demands.
So while Cooper and the Democrats will continue implying Republicans are mean and borderline murderous for not expanding Medicaid, the ball…or balls…will be in the governor’s court once again, and again, and again. What will he do with it?