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State budget impasse up to 48 days. Still no vote to override Cooper's veto

The stalemate continued Tuesday over Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the Republican state budget compromise.

House GOP leadership opted not to hold a vote on overriding Cooper’s veto or Medicaid expansion legislation House Bill 655. The next opportunity will be at 3 p.m. today, Day 48 of the stalemate.

It is the 22nd consecutive session that House GOP leadership did not address either bill even though they have been placed at the top of each agenda.

House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, has said there would be no action on HB655 until the budget becomes law.

Republicans need at least seven Democratic House members and at least one Democratic senator to vote for a veto override. That means most House Democrats have to be present for any potential session vote.

As the two sides remain entrenched, analysts say it could take weeks, if not months, for a compromise to be reached.

Moore was reported by The Daily Reflector of Greenville as saying on Aug. 1 that he is willing to wait until October to secure Democratic votes for the override.

At an estimated daily operational cost of $42,000 to run the legislature, there has been at least $924,000 of taxpayer funds spent since the first House session vote on the bills could have been taken July 8.

On Monday and Tuesday, the House floor session lasted less than 25 minutes each, and just one bill was addressed each time.

Only one House committee — Health — took up a bill Tuesday. There are no House committees set to meet today.

The longest traditional legislative sessions this decade involved former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican super-majorities. In each case, McCrory did not veto the budget bill.

However, the 2012-13 budget was not signed into law until July 26, the 2013-14 budget on Aug. 7, the 2014-15 budget on Sept. 18 and the 2015-16 budget on July 14.

The legislature approved legislation after the 2015 session that allowed for continual funding for about 90% of the state budget if a budget was not approved by July 1.

Medicaid expansion at issue

Cooper has cited the lack of Medicaid expansion as a primary reason for his veto, along with not enough funds in the GOP budget compromise dedicated to public education spending — including larger public-school teacher raises than offered by the GOP —infrastructure and environment issues.

Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer said Monday “the speaker will hold the veto override when the votes are secured, and we are steadfastly committed to passing the $24 billion state budget separately from any consideration of Medicaid expansion.”

Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, and House Minority leader, and Cooper have called out GOP legislative leadership for their lack of response to Cooper’s budget compromise submitted July 9 that provides funds for most special projects being used by GOP leadership to entice House Democrats to vote for a veto override.

There’s also $218 million in necessary start-up funding for the state Medicaid transformation initiative set to begin Nov. 1 in the Triad.

House Democrats have said that by GOP House leadership stalling on taking a veto-override vote and not beginning earnest budget negotiations with Medicaid expansion included, they are the ones responsible for the delay in pay raises.

Senate GOP leadership has indicated HB655 is a non-starter in their chamber even though they have offered to hold a special session on health care once the budget becomes law.

On Aug. 7, Jackson sent a letter to GOP legislative leadership containing 51 of 55 Democratic signatures confirming their collective support for maintaining Cooper’s June 28 veto of the GOP budget.

Jackson’s letter tries to confirm what Jackson and Cooper have been saying since the veto was issued — that “the votes are not there to override.”

Both Berger and Moore have said there would be a clean slate if they choose to hold budget negotiations with Cooper and Democratic legislative leaders.

GOP courts Dems

Rep. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford, has been among the legislators being courted by GOP House leadership to override the veto. Brockman is one of three House Democrats who voted for the budget compromise June 26. That vote was 66-51.

Brockman said he is being open-minded on the budget dispute, as well as attempting to secure more than $3 million in funding in the GOP budget for 17 special projects in the High Point area. He has been the target of advocacy groups using billboards to pressure him to uphold the veto.

“It’s clear the one sticking point is Medicaid expansion,” Brockman said. “It appears Republican leadership is willing to discuss every other item in the budget, including moving to positions similar to the governor’s budget proposal.

“It makes all kinds of sense to expand Medicaid, but you have a Senate Republican leadership adamantly against it.”

Brockman said that “there is a need for both sides to feel enough pressure to make a deal.”

“We’re not doing right by the people of North Carolina by not reaching a compromise on the budget even though compromise, for some people, is a dirty word.”