Cooper vetoes budget for second straight year; override likely

RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — For the second year in a row Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed the state budget, though, for the second straight year, the move is unlikely to change the state spending plan.

Cooper announced his veto during a news conference in Raleigh surrounded by red-clad educators. The Democrat criticized the priorities the Republican-led General Assembly funded in the bill as well as the process used to pass it. Republican leaders essentially locked Democrats out of the process by negotiating in private, convening a conference committee with only Republican members of the House and Senate and not allowing amendments to the compromise bill.

Republicans are likely to override the veto of the $23.9 billion plan for the second year of the state’s two-year budget cycle adopted last week, as they hold a super majority in each chamber of the General Assembly.

Cooper has promoted his own budget proposal, which would have spent $600 million more in the year starting July 1 compared to the GOP plan, which already represents a nearly $900 million spending increase compared to this year. Cooper wanted more money in part to raise average teacher pay and invest in school-safety improvements beyond what Republicans propose.

The chief pivot on the competing plans is taxes. The Republicans’ proposal retains income-tax cuts already set to take effect next January — reducing the corporate rate from 3 percent to 2.5 percent and the individual rate from 5.499 percent to 5.25 percent. Cooper would find extra money to pay for his initiatives by blocking the corporate cut and keeping the higher individual rate on income above $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for married couples.

While Cooper and other Democrats have criticized the budget’s spending on education, Republicans point to average pay raises of 6.5 percent for teachers and a $700 million year-over-year increase in overall public education funding.

The budget, the veto and the override are expected to be key issues in the campaign for General Assembly seats this fall. Democrats have put up a candidate in every district hoping to chip away at the Republican majority that effectively renders vetoes moot.

Cooper vetoed the state budget last year, as well. It became law two days later when the General Assembly voted to override the veto.

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