Both chambers override Perdue's veto of state budget plan

lbonner@newsobserver.comJuly 3, 2012 

BUDGET01.NE.062912.ASR

During a press conference in Raleigh on Friday, June 29, 2012, Gov. Bev Perdue says she will veto the $20.2 billion state budget. Perdue said she wanted to shift more money to public schools and other items, but Republican legislative leaders rebuffed her offers to negotiate and basically told her to “take it or leave.”

SHAWN ROCCO — srocco@newsobserver.com

  • The $20.2 billion budget • Gives 1.2 percent raises for teachers and state employees and 1 percent cost-of-living increases for state retirees. • Adds $212.5 million for growth in Medicaid program. • Does not provide enough money to hire probation officers to supervise all newly released prisoners. • Provides $39.7 million in monthly stipends to adult care homes for residents who do not qualify for personal care services paid by Medicaid, but whose community placements are not arranged. • Limits promotion for third-graders who do not pass end-of-grade reading tests. • Caps the state gas tax. • Revives the Governor’s School, a summer enrichment program for high school students. • Reduces by $143.3 million the amount local school districts must return to the state. Schools will have $190 million less to spend this year.

The legislature will pass a $20.2 billion state budget over Gov. Bev Perdue's objections. The state House voted 74-45 Monday night to override her veto. The Senate voted about 30 minutes later to override with a vote of 31-10.

This is the second time in two years that the Republican-controlled legislature has handed Perdue a budget defeat with the help of a handful of House Democrats.

Perdue tried to convince five of the six House Democrats who had been voting for the Republican budget to stick with her. But it was Democratic Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County who made the surprise break, saying he was worried about the Senate going home without negotiating and state employees in his district getting laid off from their jobs. Jackson was not one of the Democrats who had been voting for the budget.

Perdue, a Democrat, wanted to use her veto to push Republican legislators to the negotiating table. In the last week, she proposed shifting $100 million legislative budget writers had set aside in reserves or using cash she described as surprise revenue to go to schools, parole offices, eugenics victims, and to prepare for the November elections.

Republicans could have negotiated with Perdue, made sure they had enough House Democrats to do what they wanted without her approval, or left with the budget they passed last year in place. In the end, they convinced enough Democrats to join them in a veto. The Senate was pushing the timeline, threatening to leave for the summer at around 1 a.m. Tuesday and leave the second-year of the two-year budget in place.

“I’m not crazy about (the budget) ... we think the modifications we’ve made improve it, but if she’s not liking those modifications and we’re not able to override, we have a budget for the second year,” said Senate leader Phil Berger.

The legislature writes a two-year budget when it convenes in odd-numbered years. In even-numbered years, it returns to Raleigh to update the plan for the second year.

The budget leaves local school districts in worse shape than Perdue wanted, but they are assured that their budget cuts won’t be as deep as they would have been under the unchanged version of the two-year budget.

The budget allows school districts to keep more of their state funds rather than returning them to the state treasury, but school districts will still have $190 million less to spend this year.

Teachers and state employees will receive 1.2 percent raises.

Staff writer Austin Baird contributed.

Bonner: 919-829-4821

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