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North Carolina Senate to vote on budget override

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The North Carolina Senate may decide Monday night whether to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state’s $24 billion budget proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, told reporters on Monday that he wants to end the legislative session this week that was extended in late June because of Cooper’s veto of the budget.

“If there is a successful veto override, we will begin winding down immediately,” Berger said. “A successful override could also include a budget addition that reflects a compromise.”

Berger added that a compromise could only happen if the governor drops his “Medicaid-[expansion]-or-nothing ultimatum.” 

Cooper vetoed the budget on June 28 after it failed to include a $2 billion Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Cooper also objected to teacher pay raises including in the spending plan, saying what Republicans approved was not enough. Since then, legislators have passed pieces of the budget in mini-bills. The House vote overrode the veto 55-15 on Sept. 11 in the absence of most of the Democratic members. 

Republican lawmakers plan to continue to propose piecemeal budget items if the veto override is not successful. Still on the list is funding for the Department of Technology, teacher pay raises and school construction.

“I want to be clear the Senate will conclude business this week,” he said. “If we were not able find an agreement on outstanding matters over the last 10 months, particularly over the last four months, then staying here for another month will not make things any better.”

Cooper and Democrats proposed a budget compromise in early July that reinserts Medicaid expansion and lowers funding in other areas including teacher pay raises. Republicans are not open to the plan. 

Berger said Monday that if Democrats do not compromise by withdrawing Medicaid expansion from their demands, then the General Assembly will decide on teacher raises.

“We will know what they decide by the end of the week,” he said.

Monday’s session is scheduled to reconvene at 4 p.m., but legislative officials say voting will most likely occur after 7 p.m. 

It would take 30 votes in the Senate to override the veto. There are 29 Republican and 21 Democratic senators in the senior chamber, meaning if all Republicans are present and vote to override, it would take one Democratic senator to as well.