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North Carolina covers 98 percent of fiscal spending without budget

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More than 98 percent of the funding for the fiscal year has been passed by the North Carolina General Assembly despite Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto.

Lawmakers will be out on recess for the next 12 days in spite of leaving the spending plan for the state unfinished.

“It took a little longer than usual, but the Senate’s business has concluded,” Senator Majority Leader Phil Berger said. “The final enacted budget, which includes the ‘mini-budget’ bills, totals 98.5 percent of the original budget.’”

The General Assembly has passed more than a dozen parts of the $24 billion budget as piecemeal bills. Cooper on Friday signed three mini-bills that changed franchise tax rates, financed community colleges and provided hurricane relief. This week, the legislature also passed bills that fund the Department of Technology and teacher pay raises.

The governor previously signed other bills that cover rural broadband technology, state employee raises, a juvenile justice program roll out and other allocations from the general fund.

“The total general fund appropriations for the combined enacted budget is $23.62 billion,” according to Berger’s office. The number excludes $700 million in debt service.

Cooper vetoed the spending bill right before the Fourth of July recess. However, the House and the Senate had the option to override the veto with a three-fifths majority.

With many Democrats missing from the chamber, the House overrode the veto 55-15 on Sept. 11.

The Senate planned to vote on the veto override Thursday but failed to do so after several recesses. Some Democrats accused the opposition of rescheduling the vote to avoid its failure.

“They brought us into session yesterday, saw all the Dems were there, so they called a recess, then another … but every time we came back all the Dems showed up,” Sen. Jeff Jackson, D–Mecklenburg, wrote on Twitter.

Like the House, the Senate needs a supermajority of votes to successfully override the veto. If all GOP senators vote to override, at least one Democrat also would need to to reach the supermajority.

Berger on Monday said that the session would be ending Thursday, and he hoped that the budget would be finalized by then. 

However, lawmakers will return to the capitol on Nov. 13, but not to work on the 2019 budget proposal that was vetoed by the governor in the summer. 

The budget would have to be reconsidered early next year, when the next legislative session also begins.