Earlier this month, Governor Cooper vetoed a bill that would cut corporate taxes. He also vetoed a bill that said it would provided teachers and public school employees with raises, but
those raises would have been contingent on an override of the House budget in the Senate, and would have been smaller than all other state employees' raises this year.
After the veto, teachers and community leaders joined Governor Cooper in calling for legislators to negotiate higher pay raises.
In light of recent mini-budgets pushed by legislative leadership, Governor Cooper and legislative Democrats have requested that leadership begin negotiations that deal solely with teacher pay.
So far legislative leaders have not agreed to negotiate.
The State Budget stalemate continued with two mini-budget bills passing this week: one dealing with transportation and one with disaster relief. I supported both bills because both would help North Carolinians in important ways but, unfortunately, legislative leaders mixed in unrelated bad provisions in each. The transportation bill (SB 356) provided state funding and loans from the General Fund to the Department of Transportation which has run very low on funds. The shortfall in cash has caused delays in planning of future projects (not current projects) and forced a number of layoffs with transportation contractors. Normally, transportation projects are funded through the Highway Fund (which is funded by gas tax revenue, but not income or sales taxes).
Why does the Department of Transportation have a cash flow problem? There are two big reasons for this.
, recent natural disasters have created an unprecedented amount of transportation-related clean up costs. The State will get reimbursed for these costs from the federal government, but that has not happened yet.
, court decisions around the Map Act have resolved the legal uncertainty around those eminent domain cases and prompted the State to pay out settlements to a large number of landowners whose lands were taken by the State.
SB 356 will provide an infusion of funds to ease the Highway Fund’s cash flow problems. Planning for future projects will get back on track and thousands of North Carolina workers across the state will get back to work. The disaster relief bill (HB 200) is badly needed. It spends money from the State’s reserve accounts to be used as money on disaster relief projects that will get matching federal funding. Everyone agrees this is a good idea.
Yesterday, the House voted on another adjournment resolution. I voted against it again because while we are gone, teachers across our state will go without adequate and deserved raises, our neighbors will continue to go without healthcare, and the budget and the business of the people of North Carolina will go unfinished.
Unfortunately, it does not look like we will be back in session until January 15th of 2020.
Even though we have adjourned until January, our office will be open. Please contact me via phone or email if we can be of assistance to you. Please note the office will be closed November 28th - December 3rd.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I am grateful to serve District 36 and my constituents.