When it comes to budget cuts, signs of disagreement between the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly and the Democratic governor are becoming apparent.
And some legislators believe that to make up for the $3.7 billion shortfall, state legislators might approve a budget with cuts so deep that Gov. Bev Perdue will veto the bill.
“If the cuts made by the Republican-controlled N.C. House and Senate are too deep, too damaging to our pre-K through university education, too limiting to economic growth and job creation, too hurtful to our at-risk populations, the governor might well veto the budget,” said Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, in an e-mail.
Perdue’s decision depends on a number of factors.
“Whether Gov. Perdue will veto the Republican budget will depend on where she wants to pick a fight with the new Republican-led General Assembly this year,” said Mitch Kokai, spokesman for the John Locke Foundation, a right-leaning, nonprofit think tank.
However, Tom Carsey, a political science professor at UNC, said in an e-mail that legislators and governors will try to avoid a veto.
“Vetoes and veto overrides generally suggest either a breakdown in bargaining, an error in one side or the other understanding what the other side really wants, or that one or both sides are looking to score political points by drawing a sharp distinction,” Carsey said.
But even the governor’s veto is not final.
“If the governor vetoes the budget — or any bill for that matter — Republicans in the Senate have enough votes to override the veto. But in the House, Democrats have enough votes to sustain a veto — if House Democrats can keep all their members on together,” Insko said.
If the governor vetoes the bill, it will be sent back to the House. The members of the House then vote whether or not to override the veto. Three-fifths of the members must vote in favor of overriding the veto for it to pass.
If the House votes to override the veto, the bill is then sent to the Senate, where the same rules apply.
Perdue has only vetoed one bill in her three years as governor.
Kokai said he thinks it is too early to say whether Perdue will veto the budget.
“My suspicion is that she will probably try to avoid that if she can,” he said. “She knows that the budget is going to be smaller than what she has been accustomed to, and she has already made cuts of her own in the current budget through the end of June.”
He said the cuts Republicans are proposing are crucial for controlling the state’s growing shortfall.
“For too many years we have spent beyond what the taxpayers have been able to support,” Kokai said. “The reason we have a budget shortfall for more than $3 billion is we have over-promised.”
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