Support from key House Democrats for the GOP-authored budget is eroding, putting into question the legislatures ability to override a veto by Gov. Bev Perdue, if it comes.
They dont have the votes to override, and they know it, said Rep. Dewey Hill, a Whiteville Democrat. Hill was one of five House Democrats who helped legislative Republicans enact their own budget last year over Perdues objections.
Perdue has not said what she will do about the $20.2 billion budget that she says falls short of meeting critical needs. She has made several public overtures to Republican legislative leaders about a compromise, but legislators have rejected those suggestions. Perdue and her staff also have met twice with the five Democrats, Hill said, the second meeting Thursday.
She has until Sunday night to sign the budget, veto it, or let it become law without her signature.
Hill said Perdue did not give any hints what she would do, but he told a Perdue staff member he would be willing to vote to sustain a veto or to walk out of the room during the vote.
The question of how many legislators vote is critical because each chamber needs at least three-fifths of members present and voting to override. Hill said he doubted House leadership would try to override a veto knowing they would lose.
But House Speaker Thom Tillis said last week the House would take an override vote. We would clearly move to override the veto, primarily because of how irresponsible it would be to not do that, he said. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars hanging in the balance.
Rep. Bill Owens, an Elizabeth City Democrat, said Thursday that he was leaning not to override right now.
Owens wanted to tax video sweepstakes to raise money, but that idea died. Now, he wants legislative leaders to negotiate a compromise with the governor.
I hope they work it out, he said.
Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw said its too early to predict the results of a House override attempt.
To say we dont have the votes right now is a little premature, he said. Its always changing. We dont know what shes going to do.
Rep. William Brisson, a Dublin Democrat who voted with Republicans, said he would continue to support the GOP budget because rejecting it would mean that state employees and teachers wouldnt get raises. Brisson said he wishes the budget had more for schools, but theyll be better off under the new budget than they would be under the budget legislators passed last year that would kick in July 1.
The legislature passes a two-year budget in odd-numbered years, and in even-numbered years comes back to make adjustments. The budget it passed last year does not include the raises or gas-tax cap.
I dont think that would be good for the people, Brisson said.
Staff writer John Frank contributed.