Under the Dome

McCrory won’t use disaster funds to defend HB2

Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory Raleigh

Gov. Pat McCrory won’t be using the disaster-relief funds the General Assembly gave him for litigation over the use of bathrooms by people who consider themselves a different gender than is on their birth certificates.

That was the word Friday from the governor’s chief legal counsel, Bob Stephens.

Earlier this year the General Assembly moved $500,000 from an emergency and disaster-relief fund to the governor’s office to be used to defend against House Bill 2 lawsuits. However, McCrory didn’t ask for the transfer and didn’t sign the bill authorizing it; although it became law without his signature.

Stephens said available money from state department and agency budgets have been used, and will continue to be used, on bathroom litigation. That would include defending HB2 as well as challenging the Obama administration’s policies opening up school and government restrooms to accommodate access for transgendered people.

McCrory’s attorney said in a statement released to the news media that “fiscal prudence and sound management” during the governor’s first term has made it possible to find those funds. More importantly, Stephens said, the governor is intent on keeping the state’s rainy day fund healthy.

That fund has grown by more than $1.1 billion and is now $1.6 billion in reserve, the largest ever.

Stephens said finding the money for litigation was Attorney General Roy Cooper’s fault, because he won’t defend HB2 lawsuits. Stephens has retained outside counsel for those lawsuits.

This post was updated with a new amount in the budget reserve. The governor’s office initially provided incorrect infornation.