Republicans follow through on promise to “quickly override” Coopers budget veto

Governor calls spending plan with big tax cuts, "short-sighted and small-minded"

Eamon Queeney—North State Journal
North Carolina Senators vote for the third time to pass the budget compromise at the Legislative Building in Raleigh

RALEIGH — On Tuesday, Gov. Roy Cooper officially vetoed the state budget plan passed by the General Assembly last week, doubling down on his belief that it shortchanges education, teacher pay and only generates tax cuts for the rich. Republicans quickly responded with the Senate voting to override the governor’s veto later in the day.”This budget is short-sighted and small-minded,” Cooper told reporters gathered at the Executive Mansion on Monday morning announcing his intention to veto. “It lacks the vision that our state demands at this critical time of growth and change.”Cooper’s veto was formally sent to the General Assembly at 10:23am on Tuesday. “And while public education falls by the wayside, it’s the wealthy and the corporations that get more and more, through a tax plan that is so irresponsible that it blows a $600 million hole in our budget down the line,” said Cooper, reiterating a statement he made last week that he believes “a person earning $1 million or more a year will get a tax break that is 85 times larger than what a working family gets” under the tax plan.In an email, Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, called the “competitive” tax changes “one of the many necessary ingredients to being one of the best states to do business, which in turn allows us to invest in education and infrastructure.”But state Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), who helped craft the massive tax package included in the budget, said the governor is being disingenuous about his number-crunching while also spewing rhetoric that could turn off future investors.”It is literally pie in the sky,” he said referring to Cooper’s calculations, “and maybe that is what he hopes it is so that he can criticize it, but that’s just not the case. It’s the wrong economic message that we wish to send. We want to encourage more investment in our state.”He has a job to do as governor, and that is to recruit business here — that is one of the primary responsibilities of the North Carolina governor,” Saine added. “To somehow ruin our brand, is disingenuous and unfortunate.”Cooper has not offered a clear explanation for his ’85 times’ statement, however, he is likely referring to the physical dollar amount that families will see in tax relief once the changes go into effect.The budget, which gained the support of nine Democrat lawmakers, cuts the personal income tax from 5.499 percent to 5.25 percent in 2019, while also increasing the standard deduction for a married couples filing jointly to $20,000.”If you look at the tax package by percentage, it is probably one of the more fair tax packages you will see anywhere,” continued Saine, standing just outside the House floor during what might be the legislature’s last week in session this year.”From an economic development and tax standpoint, it heavily favors middle-class and low-income families, so to come out with such as preposterous number is just fantasy.”Donald Bryson, head of the North Carolina arm of the conservative PAC Americans for Prosperity, was also quick to send out a dig against Cooper’s Democratic Party.”Remember, just six years ago the North Carolina economy was the eighth worst in the country because of the tax-and-spend policies Gov. Cooper now wants to revisit,” Bryson said in a statement encouraging lawmakers to override the governor’s veto. “We cannot let him turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made.”In a press conference last Thursday, Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) had said they would not hesitate to “quickly override” a veto from Cooper, as Republicans hold a super majority in both chambers.The Senate followed through with its promise, voting 34-14 to override Cooper just several hours after receiving his official veto. Per legislative rules, the House is required to wait at least one legislative day before voting on the Senate-led budget. They completed the process and made the budget law with a 76-43 vote on Wednesday morning. Two Democrats, Rep. William Brisson of Bladen and Rep. Ken Goodman of Richmond, voted to override despite Cooper’s appeal to push red on the measure.Updated with House vote at 11:00am on June 28.