The legislature passed a $20.2 billion state budget over Gov. Bev Perdue’s objections, with the state House voting 74-45 Monday night to override her veto and the Senate quickly following suit.
This is the second time in two years that the Republican-controlled legislature has handed Perdue a budget defeat with the help of a handful of House Democrats. Perdue tried to convince five of the six House Democrats who had been voting for the Republican budget to stick with her.
But it was Democratic Rep. Darren Jackson of Wake County who made the surprise break, saying he was worried about the Senate going home without negotiating and state employees in his district getting laid off from their jobs.
Other Democrats who broke from the party: William Brisson, Jim Crawford, Marcus Brandon, Marian McLawhorn, Darren Jackson and Dewey Hill.
Jackson was not one of the Democrats who had been voting for the budget. Perdue, a Democrat, wanted to use her veto to push Republican legislators to the negotiating table. In the last week, she proposed shifting $100 million legislative budget writers had set aside in reserves or using cash she described as surprise revenue to go to schools, parole offices, eugenics victims, and to prepare for the November elections.
Republicans could have negotiated with Perdue, made sure they had enough House Democrats to do what they wanted without her approval, or left with the budget they passed last year in place. In the end, they convinced enough Democrats to join them in a veto. The Senate was pushing the timeline, threatening to leave for the summer at around 1 a.m. Tuesday and leave the second-year of the two-year budget in place.
“I’m not crazy about (the budget) ... we think the modifications we’ve made improve it, but if she’s not liking those modifications and we’re not able to override, we have a budget for the second year,” said Senate leader Phil Berger.
The legislature writes a two-year budget when it convenes in odd-numbered years. In even-numbered years, it returns to Raleigh to update the plan for the second year. The budget leaves local school districts in worse shape than Perdue wanted, but they are assured that their budget cuts won’t be as deep as they would have been under the unchanged version of the two-year budget.
The budget allows school districts to keep more of their state funds rather than returning them to the state treasury, but school districts will still have $190 million less to spend this year. Teachers and state employees will receive 1.2 percent raises.