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What’s Happening — Or Not Happening — At The NC General Assembly

Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager

With most traditional public schools in NC starting school Aug. 26, many educators are growing increasingly concerned by the lack of a new state budget and the funding it provides. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the budget proposal offered by Republican leadership 27 days ago, yet a compromise on a permanent state spending plan is nowhere in sight. According to Lauren Horsch, a political reporter for the NC Insider state government news service, it costs about $46,000 per day to hold a legislative session, meaning it has cost NC taxpayers nearly $1.2 million so far to continue General Assembly operations without a budget. Legislators have held a few committee meetings or floor votes on some of these days, but most recent days have seen empty hallways and little to no legislative action.

The following are examples of critical education-related items contained in the pending budget deal:

  • Student enrollment growth funding
  • Employee pay raises
  • School safety grants funding
  • K-12 capital improvements funding
  • Increased funding for textbooks, digital resources, and classroom supplies
  • Increased funding for instructional support personnel
  • Supplemental funding for cooperative innovative high schools
  • Funding for reduced-priced lunch copays
  • Increased transportation funding for higher fuel costs

Under the current budget stalemate, House leadership has continued to attempt to secure enough votes to override the Governor’s veto. Unlike previous years, Republicans in the House and Senate no longer hold veto-proof majorities, meaning they need to convince some Democrats to join them in overriding the Governor’s veto. Last week, House Minority Leader Darren Jackson (D-Wake) sent a letter to Republican leadership in which 51 of 55 House Democrats pledged to maintain the budget veto. Based on these numbers, even if House Republicans included the four Democrats who did not sign onto the pledge, they are still 3 votes short of the 72 votes needed to secure a veto override, if all 120 House members are present. Those numbers shift a bit if any representatives are absent when a veto override motion is called, so the GOP’s ability to override the budget veto is still a possibility. This appears to be the House leadership’s rationale for keeping the session open and finding the right opportunity to attempt to enact the state budget over Governor Cooper’s objections.

With the start of the new school year creating additional pressures for both the Governor and the General Assembly, NCASA hopes to see some budget developments in the days ahead. Be sure to check the NCASA website, @NCASAtweets, and our weekly In The Know newsletter for the most up-to-date education budget news.

Elizabeth Yelverton