October 11, 2019
State Budget Update
Still no attempt by the NC Senate to override Governor Cooper’s veto of the state budget passed by GOP lawmakers back in June. Instead, this week the House and Senate continued to pass stand-alone spending measures, or “mini-budgets,” to fund needed projects while the stalemate continues. Most of these measures are for legislative provisions that already have bipartisan support. Piecemeal budgets with action this week included funding for the Department of Transportation, community colleges, a rural broadband initiative, tax credit program extensions and “Raise the Age” implementation. According to House Speaker Tim Moore, legislative leaders are working on another “mini-budget” that will provide raises for teachers and additional educational funding. With each “mini-budget,” skepticism grows as to whether or not the $24 million comprehensive budget still has a real chance of becoming law. And, from what Senate leader Phil Berger told reporters this week, it may not matter. “The aggregate expenditures in the dozen or so mini-budgets lawmakers have passed, combined with the ongoing spending in the continuing budget,” Berger said, “will be very, very close to what the total spend was on the budget we adopted.” He added, “There are a few things I think there’s consensus that we need to do something on – the teacher pay, compensation in the university system, compensation for community colleges, but once you get beyond that, I don’t know that there’s anything that there’s consensus that there’s a must do.” As for the budget veto override in the Senate, Republicans need one Democrat to vote with them, or two Dems to be absent, in order for the override to be successful. The feeling is simply that Berger and Senate leadership have not been able to secure Dem assistance to move forward with an override vote. There will be no attempts at an override anytime soon, however. The Senate (and House) will be taking another mini-hiatus starting today and lasting through next week. Neither chamber will be taking-up votes again until October 21st.
NC Congressional Maps
October 24th is the date judges have set to hear arguments on whether North Carolina’s congressional districts challenged by voters who say the lines are tainted by excessive partisan bias shouldn’t be used in the 2020 elections. The hearing comes in response to a request by the plaintiffs in an ongoing partisan gerrymandering lawsuit intended to block the Congressional maps now, as opposed to waiting for the matter to go to trial. Plaintiffs are pushing for the legislature to redraw the state’s 13 congressional districts in enough time to be used for the upcoming 2020 March primary.
Did You Know?
There are currently 13 bills in “Conference Committee,” all patiently waiting to be negotiated by House and Senate appointed conferees. These bills can easily be considered some of the most contentious of this session, as each contains an element that has led to non-concurrence for one chamber or the other. House and Senate leaders said this week that we may see movement on a few of these bills in upcoming days. Did you know these important bills are in Conference Committee:
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