Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

N Carolina legislature picks up pace, aims for adjournment

The federal government is finalizing new restrictions on hundreds of medicines containing hydrocodone The federal government is finalizing new restrictions on hundreds of medicines containing hydrocodone
Alfredo Watts | 28 June, 2017, 03:00

The General Assembly's adjournment could depend on how quickly Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper decides whether to veto the $23 billion state budget approved by legislators last week.

Cooper returned the measure with his veto stamp Tuesday morning to the Senate, where the measure originated.

Cooper made the announcement Monday, four days after the GOP-controlled legislature gave final approval to its two-year spending plan. The other time happened in 2011, when Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto was overridden by Republicans.

The Senate would get first crack at an override vote.

"This budget shortchanges our state at a time it doesn't need it", Cooper said, surrounded by teachers at the Executive Mansion. They say Cooper will be held accountable for failing to accept a budget that includes many ideas he promoted.

The budget, which gained the support of nine Democrat lawmakers, cuts the personal income tax from 5.499 percent to 5.25 percent in 2019, while also increasing the standard deduction for a married couples filing jointly to $20,000.

However, he said he would be willing to sign a revised budget after his veto if lawmakers were willing to make a few "simple" changes.

Cooper has not offered a clear explanation for his "85 times" statement, however, he is likely referring to the physical dollar amount that families will see in tax relief once the changes go into effect.

"I said at the very first meeting that we are kidding ourselves if we don't think what's going on in Congress right now with health care and the taking away of health insurance coverage from millions of people is not going to hurt our battle against the opioid crisis", Cooper said.

State Sen. Don Davis, D-Pitt, said the budget was "friendly to eastern North Carolina" and wanted to hear what residents in his district, which encompasses all of Greene and parts of Pitt and Wayne counties, had to say.

Farmer-Butterfield said it's important to keep a healthy reserve fund but not at the expense of the state's school children, state employees, retired state personnel, teachers and judicial system. His office and fellow Democrats also have complained that the most veteran teachers would get only a $300 raise and $385 annual bonuses. It would also lower the corporate income tax rate to 2.5 percent from 3 percent.

He jabbed Republicans repeatedly along class lines, saying their tax cuts benefit the wealthy and corporations.

The legislative budget leaves over 31,000 students on the waitlist for the upcoming school year, the state's highest total in the last 10 years, Pierce said.