Gov. McCrory defiant after vetoes overridden
RALEIGH (AP) — Tasting the defeat of overrides on his first two vetoes, a defiant Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday that he still won’t implement one of the bills the General Assembly passed because lawmakers didn’t give him enough money to do so.
Barely an hour after the Senate completed the overrides first started by the House late Tuesday, McCrory used a State Board of Education meeting to criticize fellow Republicans for passing a bill requiring drug-testing for certain welfare recipients.
Legislators set aside $145,000 in the state budget to carry out the drug-testing law. But McCrory’s health and human services agency said the law required an additional $300,000 to make computer changes, not including expenses incurred by all 100 counties.
“The executive branch will not take any action on the new law’s implementation until sufficient funds with this unfunded mandate are provided,” the governor said in a statement.
Legislative leaders were taken aback by McCrory’s announcement and wondered aloud how he could avoid carrying out a new law that was approved in July and whose veto was overridden by wide margins. The drug testing of Work First applicants and recipients wouldn’t begin until next summer.
“It seems like a little instrument called the state constitution has been forgotten, and the powers of the three branches of government,” Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, the Senate Rules Committee chairman, told reporters. The North Carolina constitution says the governor “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
“All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the constitution,” Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement. “We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law.”
Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, added the governor is “trying to pass the blame for the budget he signed and put himself above the law.”
It took senators less than 10 minutes of floor debate to override the drug-testing veto and the veto of another bill that allows employers to create a new definition of a temporary worker that could help them avoid participating in the federal E-Verify program, a system that electronically verifies workers’ legal status.
McCrory claimed the second veto override would create a loophole that would allow all sorts of industries — not just the agricultural interests that had sought the change — to hire immigrants who are in the country illegally.
The governor said he would “explore all legal and executive authority to ensure that the letter and spirit of our nation’s immigration law is followed.”
Potentially setting up a new confrontation with lawmakers, the governor also blamed Republican legislative leaders for putting too much education policy into the state budget bill, which he signed into law, rather than dealing with it in separate legislation.