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MEMO: State Budget Negotiations

Raleigh

Governor Cooper hosted budget writers and Democratic leaders at the mansion yesterday for a conversation about negotiations. At the end of that meeting the Governor proposed a two-track negotiating process – one to focus on health care issues, including Medicaid expansion, and another to negotiate the larger budget framework. Legislative Republicans left the meeting without agreeing to that proposal, and the ball remains in their court on this issue.

With just 11 days left in the fiscal year, legislative Republicans are simply refusing to come to the negotiating table.

Where We Are
As a short recap, Republicans have so far tried to “negotiate” through a series of letters; accused the Democrats of leaving the table after one staff-level meeting; and now, declined to participate in the Governor’s two-track negotiation proposal. None of this shows the least sincerity in attempting to find common ground.

Fait Accompli?
Is the conference budget actually a done deal? On Tuesday, Senator Harry Brown spoke to reporters and had this to say of where things stand:

“HHS we’ve pretty much worked through all of those at this point. JPS we just worked through this morning. So much of those issues have been worked out. NER same thing. So we’re making pretty good progress.” (Video here)

Republicans have very clearly worked out their conference budget among themselves. They haven’t accepted Governor Cooper’s offer at a real negotiation because their budget is done and they’d rather engage in a charade for political gain. 

Everything Is On The Table For Gov. Cooper
Governor Cooper made clear at Wednesday’s meeting that he wants everything on the table – including Medicaid expansion. It is Republicans who are taking items off the table and trying to stymie negotiations with just 11 days left in the fiscal year.

Bottom Line
Republicans have done nothing to indicate they are truly serious about working with Governor Cooper to craft a budget compromise. With 11 days left in the fiscal year, the Governor, his legislative staff, budget team and cabinet are ready to negotiate a true compromise that works for North Carolina, but he can’t do that if Republicans won’t meet him at the table.