The veto Sunday of the state budget could be just the first of a flurry of vetoes by North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue.
She might also reject bills that would drastically change North Carolina election laws, abortion policy and the clout of the state teachers association.
"Clearly the more extreme Republican agenda is problematic for the governor, and she feels it's the wrong direction for North Carolina," said Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson.
House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Cornelius Republican, doesn't seem worried.
"We're not going to let the governor set our agenda," he told reporters last week.
With the action Sunday, Perdue already has vetoed six bills since the session started in January.
Her predecessor, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley, vetoed a total of nine in eight years. But since 1996, when North Carolina became the last state to give its governor a veto, Perdue is the first to face a General Assembly led by the other party.
The veto showdowns come as lawmakers start what is expected to be their final week before adjournment. It underscores the growing tension between the governor and GOP leaders that could be the early script of next year's gubernatorial race.
Criticism has escalated on both sides.
House Majority Leader Paul Stam of Wake County, caught on microphone at a closed party caucus, called Perdue "incompetent." Perdue slammed the GOP budget and called it "evil."
In particular, she has criticized education cuts. Educators say the cuts will eliminate 13,000 jobs at elementary through university levels. Democrats also say they will hurt the environment and poor people.
Republicans say estimates of lost jobs are overblown. They say they protect education and that other cuts are needed in a state facing a $2.5 billion budget shortfall.
"To hear Gov. Perdue talk, you would think the sky was falling," Senate President pro tempore Phil Berger of Rockingham County said in a statement Friday. "You said you wanted to work with us; meet us halfway. We're there, Governor. Where are you?"
Democrats applauded the veto of the $19.7 billion legislative budget. Republicans blasted it.
"She has shown no leadership on this issue and no willingness to work with the legislature, choosing instead to veto a budget that protects education and creates jobs," House Speaker Thom Tillis of Cornelius said in a statement. "We look forward to overriding the governor's last-minute veto very soon."
Republicans are confident they can. Five Eastern North Carolina House Democrats joined in passing it, giving the GOP a veto-proof majority. There are enough Republicans in the Senate to override it on their own.
But that could be the first of several vetoes.
Last week, the House passed a bill requiring voters to show a photo ID. Similar legislation is pending in the Senate and has popped up in several other states with new Republican governors or legislative majorities.
Republicans say it would ensure against fraud. Democrats say it would suppress turnout, especially among seniors, students and African-Americans, groups that tend to vote Democratic.
Lawmakers are also expected to approve measures to shorten the early voting period and stop voters from casting straight-party ballots. In 2008, 1.2 million voters cast straight Democratic ballots in a state that Democrat Barack Obama won by 14,000 votes.
"The governor disagrees with legislation that makes it harder for certain citizens to cast their votes," Pearson said. "She is very concerned about the General Assembly hand-picking voters who can cast a ballot and restricting access to the polls."
The House also passed a bill to require a 24-hour waiting period before women can get an abortion. Similar legislation is in the Senate. Last week, Perdue said, "Government has no role interfering in the relationship between a doctor and a patient."
Both the House and Senate have passed legislation that would prevent the N.C. Association of Educators from collecting dues through payroll deduction from its 60,000 members.
"Every indication is that she will veto that bill," said Scott Anderson, executive director of the NCAE, a group that has supported Perdue.
In the governor's view
As lawmakers move into what's expected to be the final week of their session, other bills are likely to get Perdue's attention.
One, passed last week by the House, would give tax credits to children with disabilities, including those who are home-schooled. Democrats say it's not sufficient to meet the needs of the disabled, and some see it as the first step to a school voucher system.
"If she's going to veto bills, veto them early," Tillis said last week, apparently to make it easier for legislators to deal with the vetoes while they're in session.
Pearson said Tillis is not setting the governor's timetable."
Said Pearson: "We fully expect there to be a good couple of handfuls of bills that will come to the governor's desk that will cause her dismay."