GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – One more week and at least one more day’s delay.
North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) on Monday announced that the votes to override four vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper would be pushed back an additional day, to Aug. 16.
But what he didn’t say in the brief session he chaired was what he said privately later: Passage of the state budget won’t happen this month.
Moore’s announcement about the vetoes came just four days after he had delayed the votes for a week. They had been scheduled for Aug. 7 even though the latest vetoes were issued in early June. He will get another chance to defer again when the House – at least a few members – gathers at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Moore didn’t again state on Monday during a perfunctory, 5-minute-or-so session, which dealt more with Rep. Howard Penny’s birthday than anything else, why this extra day is required, but we know math is on his mind.
Three-fifths of those in attendance in a session would have to approve a motion to override. Moore continues to check the schedules of members to ensure that he can convene enough members to reach that threshold, for which his full-force margin of error is one member.
He didn’t offer those few in the room any update on the ongoing budget negotiations with the Senate, but, in an interview with Michael Hyland of WNCN-Ch. 17, he said this to the idea he had expressed last week that a new budget would be passed later this month:
“Final passage on a budget? Zero,” Moore told Hyland. “You can’t go spend such a significant amount of money in a vacuum. That’s where Congress has gotten itself in trouble.”
It’s unclear what the reference to spending “in a vacuum” means. Moore said just last week that he expected to pass the budget by the end of August, so this is a significant change.
One of the House’s senior chairs of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth), has said that he expected “we need two weeks to finish up.” That was two weeks ago.
The Senate, in an earlier meeting Monday that lasted 2 minutes under the leadership of Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Alleghany), didn’t mention votes of any sort (its own override vote or anything else) or the budget. Hise did say the Senate will reconvene for another no-voting session at 10 a.m. Thursday, too.
But Hise, one of the Senate’s negotiators, later spoke with Hyland: “We feel all kinds of pressure to get this resolved. Not ready to comment on any final decisions or others, but to find a head of agency asking for additional funding is not an unusual concept that the legislature deals with.”
The House had passed its version of the budget around Easter. The Senate followed with its plan in mid-May, which the House rejected on May 24. Those two budgets did vary greatly, including the amount of raises for teachers and state employees, but Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) have said most of the issues have been worked out. Cooper and Democrats complain about how the delays affect Medicaid expansion and school funding (school years by state statute begin on Aug. 28).
“They need to get back to Raleigh, pass this budget,” Cooper said.
This biennial budget was supposed to go into effect on July 1, but in the middle of all of this has emerged a new discussion about whether the state should allow casinos to be built outside of tribal lands, including in Rockingham County, where residents aren’t keen on the idea. That plan could be tied to the budget bill.
The override votes
Early in July, the House received the official messages that Cooper had vetoed two more bills: House Bill 618, the “Charter School Review Board” bill, and House Bill 488, “Code Council Reorg. and Var. Code Amend.”
They joined two bills that Cooper vetoed in late June – the controversial “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act” and “Gender Transition/Minors” bill – to be reconsidered by lawmakers.
Before taking any handoffs of those vetoes, the Senate has its own override by Cooper to consider: Senate Bill 49, the much-discussed “Parents Bill of Rights.”
Veto overrides have happened about 10 times this session, including a record six in one day, since Republicans gained the supermajority in March. All the votes have been along party lines.
Guilford school board bill
The delays in votes also would mean that the Guilford County Board of Education could remain status quo for another month. Its next meeting is scheduled for Aug. 15.
Senators must vote to accept House changes on Senate Bill 9, which had been adapted to clarify how the school board would fill vacancies and also to install former teacher Michael Logan, who had been nominated by Republicans to fill out a term in District 3 but subsequently rejected by the Democrat-controlled board because members didn’t like Logan’s prior comments about the board.