Republican leadership in the state House chose Wednesday to continue until next week its waiting game on when to have a vote to potentially override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s state budget veto.
As has been the pattern for 11 consecutive sessions, neither the veto override vote nor the bipartisan Medicaid expansion legislation House Bill 655 was addressed.
The next opportunity will come Monday night, which would represent Day 32 of the stalemate.
Cooper vetoed the bill June 28, citing the lack of Medicaid expansion as a primary reason, along with not enough funds in the Republican budget compromise dedicated to public education spending, infrastructure and environment issues.
Republicans need at least seven Democratic House members and at least one Democratic senator to vote for a veto override.
Attempts to reach across the aisle for votes are being decried as interloping, if not bribery, with GOP offers of earmarking money in the budget for special projects in eastern North Carolina to sway those Democratic legislators.
All of which makes it more likely that budget negotiations will go on for weeks, if not months.
House speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, told reporters after the July 8 session — the first session to skip a vote — that “we’re going to wait until the time is right.”
He has said there will not be a vote on HB655 until the state budget veto override is approved.
Moore told online legislative media outlet The Insider after Monday’s session that he believed House GOP leadership is “close” to having enough votes to make a veto override attempt.
Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, told The Insider on Wednesday that the Senate will not hold votes next week, and doesn't expect to have any until Aug. 6.
However, conference committees will continue to meet, he said.
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.
It took the House and Senate budget writers between five and eight weeks for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 budgets to generate a concurrence report. In 2016, it took 19 days.
McCrory needed between two to five days to sign the concurrence budget for 2013 through 2015, as well as 13 days for 2016.
In contrast, the previous four budgets presented to Democratic governors Beverly Perdue and Cooper were vetoed, then overridden by the Republican-controlled legislature.
It took Perdue 10 days to veto the 2011-12 budget and eight days for the 2012-13 budget.
Perdue’s 2011 veto was overridden in three days on June 15, while her 2012 veto was overridden in four days on July 2.
Meanwhile, Cooper vetoed the 2017-18 and 2018-19 budgets five days after they were presented to him.
Cooper’s 2017 budget veto was overridden in one day on June 28, while his 2018 veto was overridden in six days on June 12.
House Bill 961
The House approved the passage of House Bill 961 on Wednesday.
The bill provides authorization of federal funds while the state is operating on a $23.8 billion continuing budget.
The vast majority of the appropriations go to block grants overseen by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, including $970.5 million for fiscal 2019-20 and $913.7 million for fiscal 2020-21.
“The Senate has now passed legislation to ensure that on-going federal funds are not held up during the state budget impasse,” Berger said Monday.
“We hope that Governor Cooper will drop his Medicaid expansion ultimatum and negotiate a full budget that delivers on important priorities across the state.”
Berger has opposed HB655, which he has criticized for including a charge to hospital and medical providers that he says will serve eventually as a tax on patients even though the N.C. Healthcare Association supports the assessment.
The bill has drawn criticism for including a work and premium-payment requirement on recipients, both of which have been halted by a federal judge in Arkansas and Kentucky.
Cooper said his counterproposal on the budget includes restoring the $42.2 million to renovate the Stevens Center in downtown Winston-Salem and $15 million for the Hauser building renovation at Winston-Salem State University.
Cooper said his proposal pays for those special projects by eliminating the next round of corporate tax-rate cuts, slated to go from 3% to 2.5%.
There has been no Republican legislative leadership response to Cooper’s counterproposal outside of public-relations statements, according to Cooper’s office.
“There have not been substantive negotiations,” Cooper told WUNC radio on Tuesday.
“We have gone through their budget with a fine-tooth comb, have come back with in their same spending limits and made a reasonable compromise offer.
“But all they’ve done is talk about whether Medicaid is going to be included and continue to try to bribe Democratic legislators to try to override the budget veto.”