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Gov. Cooper will veto state budget; override likely

By Gary D. Robertson

Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday he will veto the state budget put on his desk by Republican lawmakers, who have large enough majorities to override it if they stay unified.

Cooper made the announcement four days after the GOP-controlled legislature gave final approval to its two-year spending plan.

A budget veto has been anticipated. Cooper has blasted the plan, which would spend $23 billion in the fiscal year starting July 1, as fiscally irresponsible despite containing several hundred million dollars for Hurricane Matthew relief, government building repairs and reserves for the next recession or disaster.

Cooper has said the plan doesn’t do enough for public education and economic development and criticized tax cuts, which get implemented in 2019, that benefit the highest wage-earners and corporations.

“This budget is short-sighted and small-minded. It lacks the vision that our state demands at this pivotal time of growth and change,” Cooper said at a news conference.

Republicans contend the budget contains several items that Cooper sought, including tax reductions that benefit low- and middle-income families and efforts to address opioid abuse. Teacher pay raises in the budget increase 9.6 percent on average over two years, according to legislative leaders. Cooper had sought at least 10 percent over two years. His office and fellow Democrats also have complained that the most veteran teachers would get only a $300 raise and $385 annual bonuses.

The measure, while giving retirees a permanent 1 percent cost-of-living raise for their pensions, would end state-funded retiree health benefits for workers who get hired starting in 2021.

This marks the second time in state history a governor has vetoed a budget. The other time happened in 2011, when Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto was overridden by Republicans.

The veto marks Cooper’s fifth veto since taking office in January. Republicans have overridden the previous four.
Monday’s veto, which came nearly a week before Cooper’s constitutional deadline to act, could set the stage for the General Assembly to adjourn its annual work session by this weekend.

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