Joined by dozens of public school teachers and health care professionals and advocates, Governor Roy Cooper today spoke about his veto of the budget passed this week by the legislature.
“I am vetoing this budget because it prioritizes the wrong things. It values corporate tax breaks over classrooms, gimmicks over guaranteed school construction, and political ideology over people,” said Governor Cooper.
Last month, Governor Cooper joined thousands of educators who rallied in Raleigh for the second year in a row in support of additional education resources and higher pay.
Governor Cooper’s proposed budget gives every teacher a raise, with an average raise of 9.1%. It would also restore master’s degree pay for career educators and invest $80 million over two years for schools to hire more nurses, counselors, psychologists, social workers and school resource officers to promote student mental health and school safety.
Unfortunately, legislative Republicans offered another corporate tax break instead of a robust teacher pay raise. They also failed to restore master’s degree pay and included $19 million less over two years for personnel and resources to protect school safety.
“We trust our teachers to educate our children. Let’s put our money where our trust is. Instead of another corporate tax break, let’s pay our teachers and show them the respect they deserve,” added Cooper.
To invest in better schools from kindergarten through college as well as other critical infrastructure, Governor Cooper proposed putting a bond worth $3.9 billion to a vote of the people in November of 2020. A bond is the fiscally responsible option for making these investments, offering stability for school districts, colleges and universities, and local governments planning their budgets. It also allows the people of North Carolina the chance to voice their opinion on making these public investments.
The legislative budget does not contain a bond, opting instead for a State Capital and Investment Fund (SCIF) that promises school construction projects that may never be built. The SCIF would siphon funds from other budget needs, like improving school safety, raising teacher salaries, or purchasing textbooks, at a time when the bond market is robust and the state can borrow at historically low interest rates.
“We could do right by our students and get to work on those needs with a school construction and infrastructure bond at today’s historically low interest rates. But instead of a responsible bond, this budget includes a funding gimmick that’s no more than a slush fund, promising projects that may never be built,” said Cooper.
Governor Cooper has also proposed expanding Medicaid immediately, which would not cost state taxpayers additional money, but the legislative budget fails to do. Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would provide an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians with access to affordable health care. It would boost North Carolina’s economy by $4 billion and create an estimated 40,000 jobs.
Since 2014, 37 states under bipartisan leadership, including the District of Columbia, have helped close the gap by expanding Medicaid so more people can get coverage. For a fact sheet on how Republican-led states have seen positive outcomes reducing infant mortality, combatting the opioid crisis, and strengthening their economies after expanding Medicaid, click HERE.
“Our neighbors, our friends, our farmers, our childcare teachers, our small business owners, our brothers and sisters in the grips of opioid addiction – these are the people in the health care coverage gap,” continued Cooper. “But 2,305 days ago, the legislature slammed the door on expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. Every day that count gets higher is a lost opportunity to help our state.”
The Republican budget includes several other shortcomings compared to the Governor’s proposed budget:
• $5 million less to combat emerging compounds like GenX and protect clean water
• No funding to help close the homework gap in rural communities
• $22 million less to locally identified rural economic development projects
• $2 million less for affordable housing development · No similar programs like NC GROW or Finish Line Grants to help prepare North Carolinians for good jobs and strengthen our workforce
• No provision for a statewide construction bond like Gov. Cooper’s proposed Invest NC Bond, which would inject $3.9 billion into public schools, water and sewer improvements, the University of North Carolina system and more
“I stand ready to negotiate a true compromise. And to do that, everything – Republican priorities and Democratic ones – must be on the table. No one will get everything they want, but I know that if we come together and negotiate in good faith, we can do better,” said Cooper.
For a side-by-side comparison of Gov. Cooper’s budget and the Republican legislative budget, click HERE.
For more on the impact of Medicaid expansion in Republican-led states, click HERE.
To get the facts on the most common GOP misconceptions about Medicaid expansion, click HERE.
For more information on Gov. Cooper’s proposed budget, click HERE.