State budget negotiations stall over Medicaid expansion

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, center, speaks before he signs into law a major energy bill, listened to, from left to right, by Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham; House Minority Leader Robert Reives, D-Chatham; House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; and Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue, D-Wake, during an Executive Mansion ceremony in Raleigh, N.C. Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Gary D. Robertson)

RALEIGH – Despite public comments over the state of negotiations, the conversations between Gov. Roy Cooper and General Assembly leaders House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Eden) are at an impasse, sources tell North State Journal.

With expected floor action next week in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to approve new legislative and congressional maps, members are eager to wrap up work for the session.

One source tells NSJ that counterproposals from Gov. Cooper continue to include Medicaid expansion framework, something both Moore and Berger have consistently stated is a “non-starter” for their Republican majorities.

While publicly optimistic, privately House Republican leaders increasingly expect to approve their legislative compromise budget. The House believes it has a veto-proof majority to approve the budget on their end, but it is believed that the Senate could be 1-2 votes short of the three-fifths requirement – similar to how the 2019 process ended before leaders embarked on the “mini-budget” pieces of legislation.

When asked for comment on the report, Berger communications director Pat Ryan said the Senate was still hopeful to strike an agreement with the governor.

In an Associated Press report on Wednesday, Cooper told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing, “I want more people with health care. I want more investment in education. And Republicans have their priorities as well. So we’re talking back and forth and look forward to reaching a resolution soon.”

Budget specifics remained under wraps, but it is expected that many policy proposals in limbo are still in discussions to be included, such as money for rural broadband and other improvements.