Under the Dome

21 NC House conservatives back budget deal

Rep. Chris Millis of Hampstead, left, is among the House conservatives who’d voted against the original budget but say they’ll support the new version on Thursday.
Rep. Chris Millis of Hampstead, left, is among the House conservatives who’d voted against the original budget but say they’ll support the new version on Thursday. rwillett@newsobserver.com

On the eve of Thursday’s N.C. House budget vote, Speaker Tim Moore got some good news from the most conservative wing of the Republican caucus.

A group of 21 House Republicans – 10 of whom voted against the original House budget in May – issued a news release saying they support the budget compromise reached by House and Senate leaders.

The announcement was sent by Rep. Chris Millis, a Pender County Republican, who’d opposed the House budget because he said it was “tainted by elite tax code carve-outs and special interest perks.” Millis and other conservatives took issue with tax credits for renewable energy projects, a $40 million grant fund for film productions and $20 million for start-up businesses.

Of those items, only the film grants – now a $30 million annual allocation – made it into the final budget.

“While there may never be a budget document that will be considered perfect in the eyes of 170 different members, we feel that the final budget outcome is a major step in the right direction for North Carolina,” the 21 Republicans said in Wednesday’s news release. “Throughout the budget process, there was a considerable reduction in special interest spending outside of the role of government.”

Only one of the House Republicans who voted against the first budget, Rep. Dana Bumgardner of Gastonia, isn’t listed on the news release.

The announcement from the 21 Republicans gives Moore a comfortable margin to pass the budget Thursday even if he loses the 33 Democrats who supported the earlier House budget. The speaker will likely have a veto-proof majority.

Moore will need that support if Gov. Pat McCrory vetoes the budget. Two days after the budget was unveiled, the governor hasn’t said publicly whether he’ll sign the bill.

He voiced concerns about an expanded sales tax base and new distribution formula on Saturday. No one in McCrory’s press office responded to questions about his plan Wednesday.

If he breaks out the veto stamp, legislators will need to come back to Raleigh on Friday for a quick override vote or to extend the temporary budget. The temporary budget, known as a continuing resolution, has been in place since July 1 and will expire at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

Some form of budget will need to become law by Saturday to avoid a government shutdown.

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