RALEIGH, NC (WECT/AP) - Gov. Roy Cooper will decide soon whether to veto the budget plan passed by the General Assembly.
House lawmakers voted 77-38 Thursday afternoon to give final approval to the $23 billion spending plan that supporters say contains middle-class tax cuts, nearly 10 percent teacher raises on average over two years, and money for Hurricane Matthew relief and reserves.
"When Republicans took over in 2011, the state had about $2 billion in debt," House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said. "Now, we've saved a record $1.8 billion in savings reserves. That's a $4 billion swing from where we were. We've made responsible fiscal decisions. When naysayers said the sky would fall and revenues would drop following tax relief, what happened? We had budget surpluses. Now, we have a budget that's going to cut taxes again. These tax cuts, they help everyone. When we raise the standard deduction, we help those who are working and earning the least. Gov. Cooper should sign this budget and fulfill his own promises to provide teacher pay raises, disaster aid and tax relief to the people of North Carolina."
"This isn't that complicated: Legislative Republicans are giving more tax breaks for the wealthy and shortchanging education, our economy, and middle class families," Ford Porter, spokesman for Gov. Cooper, said in an email news release. "The more we learn about this budget, the worse it is. Instead of crafting a budget that works for the whole state, legislators voted to add hidden policy changes and diverted millions of dollars in spending for pet projects in their own districts at the last moment with no time for review. Our staff is reviewing those to ensure a complete response. The Governor made clear that he thinks this budget lacks vision and unfairly picks winners and losers and he will announce his plans in coming days."
Cooper has blasted the budget as possibly the most fiscally irresponsible budget he's ever seen, so a veto sounds likely. But Berger said legislators "will quickly override" Cooper if he uses his veto stamp.
House Minority Leader Darren Jackson says fellow Democrats will support Cooper's veto and calls the final budget petty and partisan. Cooper's veto would be difficult to sustain. Republicans hold veto-proof majorities and even a handful of Democrats have voted yes on the budget this week.
Click here to see the final House vote on the bill. Click here to see the final Senate vote on the bill.
Click here to read the text of the budget bill.