North Carolina Republican lawmakers said Wednesday they are moving forward with more partial budget bills that have bipartisan support as the standoff with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over a full state budget nears the two-month mark.
GOP lawmakers said they plan to file bills to fund rape kit testing, disaster relief, and prison and school safety when the session resumes after its Labor Day recess.
“We are responsible in passing these items,” Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger said. “I hope that it will help build trust. I just don’t understand why the governor would oppose passing things that he says he supports.”
Republican lawmakers successfully passed a series of mini-budget bills on Wednesday that will fund Medicaid and raises for state workers as the budget debate continues.
Also, the Taxpayer Refund Act, a bill that promises to return $125 to $250 to North Carolinians from excess revenue from the last fiscal year, is still making its way through the House.
Thursday is the last session day for lawmakers before a more than weeklong break for the Labor Day holiday. They return Sept. 9.
North Carolina started the fiscal year on July 1 without a spending plan after Cooper vetoed lawmakers’ budget proposal in late June. Little progress has been made since.
House representatives have skipped voting on a potential veto override every session day since July 9. The governor and other Democrats have presented a compromise spending plan, but Republican lawmakers haven’t acted on it.
Cooper said Wednesday that the compromise proposal keeps 98 percent of the items in the GOP-passed budget, but the main sticking point remains the governor’s insistence on expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Health Care Act. There also are differences on the amount of pay raises for teachers.
Cooper said Wednesday that Republicans are “shortchanging teachers and stiff-arming health care.”
Republican House Speaker Tim Moore said Wednesday that there are be enough votes to expand Medicaid coverage for more North Carolina residents. He said legislators should work on the parts of the budget that they don’t agree on “farther down the road.”
“I think the ball is in the governor’s court at this point,” Moore said. “We have shown a lot of faith moving these bills from the Senate, from the House to move forward and put Medicaid expansion to the side. Put that to the side governor, and let’s try to deal with the larger budget.”