[Editor’s note: In an extraordinary move unprecedented in modern state history, a narrow quorum of the membership of the state House of Representatives voted to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of the state budget bill early this morning. Throughout the day, Policy Watch has been providing up-to-the-minute news coverage and commentary on the day’s events, which are summarized below.]
By Rob Schofield
In a surprise move that Democratic members loudly decried as treachery, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 55-9 this morning to override Gov. Cooper’s veto of the state budget bill passed in June.
There are 120 members in the House and 56 weren’t yet in their seats yet this morning when the vote took place. Democratic lawmakers have stated that they were told by the House leadership that there would be no votes taken on the House floor today (though, it’s unclear whether there was any official notice to that effect) — a day that had been expected to be devoted to meetings of House and Senate Redistricting Committees.
At this point, no votes have been taken in the Senate, but it is has long been expected that Republicans may be able to secure the single Democratic vote they need in the 50-member body (their current majority stands at 29-21) to attain the required 3/5 majority to override the veto.
The Senate convened at 9:30 this morning, but then recessed until 4:00 p.m. you can listen to the proceedings by clicking here. (Read more… )
By Billy Ball
We will remember a lot of things about this day.
We’ll remember how North Carolina’s Democratic state House representation — a large majority of which was missing Wednesday morning, some attending 9/11 memorials — finally disintegrated in fury when Republicans held a stunning vote to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget veto.
We’ll remember the House Democratic Leader, Wake County’s Darren Jackson, repeating his assertion that Republicans told Democrats there would be no votes Wednesday.
We’ll remember how Raleigh’s political media, a chronically jaded group, frantically scrambled to make sense of things.
We’ll remember an apoplectic Deb Butler, one of the few Democrats on the floor, decrying the vote as legislative staffers sought, to no avail, to calm her. “How dare you do this, Mr. Speaker?” Butler shouted at Speaker Tim Moore. “I will not yield!” (See the video at the bottom of this post, taken by Rep. John Autry.)
And we’ll remember Tim Moore and Rep. David Lewis, men who’ve deceived and manipulated North Carolinians before, gas-lighting the minority party. [Read more… ]
By Greg Childress
State education leaders expressed shock and anger Wednesday at the House’s surprise override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s state budget veto.
“The unbelievably deceitful conduct of House Republicans in the General Assembly this morning is nothing short of reprehensible,” said Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. “By playing underhanded political games in an attempt to win at all costs, they are subverting the democratic process and destroying whatever shred of trust remained between Republicans and the people of North Carolina.”
House Democrats said they were told there would be no votes during the morning House session.
“At a time when many of us were taking a moment to remember the tragic events of 9/11, House Republicans called a surprise vote with nearly half of the lawmakers absent,” Jewell added. “This tactic smacks of the lack of integrity that has caused so many problems in our state over the past decade, from unconstitutionally gerrymandered maps to chronically underfunded public schools. But this should come as no surprise from a body that has refused to negotiate in good faith with the Governor, while disrespecting the needs of public education and educators time and time again.” [Read more… ]
By Alexandra Sirota
It appears that House leaders couldn’t get their way through debate and compromise, so rather than coming to the table with everyone, they used trickery to override the Governor’s veto of a budget that fails our state and every North Carolinian. Only 64 out of 120 House Representatives were present this morning when the vote was called after Democrats were told there would be no vote and some were at commemoration of the historic 9/11 attacks.
A final budget should lay out a vision for where our state is headed and how it plans to get there. It is the single most important policy decision that legislators make each year. It is a statement of their priorities and a marker of their stewardship of our tax dollars.
Legislators in our democracy are tasked with the tough work of negotiating those priorities and finalizing the budget. After failing at that work, legislators took the extreme step once again of changing the rules of the game.
The benefits of those changes will help very few in the near term and no one in the long-term.
This budget, which was vetoed by the governor and overridden by only about half our Representatives — which will go into effect should the Senate also override — fails to recognize the reality of a state that is growing apart economically and civically. [Read more… ]
By Joe Killian
Responding to a surprise N.C. House vote to override his budget veto, Gov. Roy Cooper excoriated legislative Republicans for using what he called a “bald faced lie” to break a legislative stalemate that has dragged on since June.
“For over two months Democrats missed family events, work and even medical appointments to show up at every session just in case a veto override was suddenly brought up,” Cooper said in a press conference Wednesday.
Democratic lawmakers failed to show up in significant numbers on Wednesday morning, leading to a 55-9 override vote. Cooper said that’s because they “relied on the word of Republican leaders” that there would be no vote — a guarantee Cooper said should have been honored.
“Because that’s how a true, functioning democracy should operate,” Cooper said.
N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) denied Cooper’s charges, as did Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett) who presided over the House on Tuesday. [Read more… ]
By Billy Ball
North Carolina state Sen. Paul Lowe has apologized after a Policy Watch reporter said the senator assaulted him and hurled his phone in the hallway of the Legislative Building Wednesday morning.
Joe Killian, investigative reporter for Policy Watch, says he was covering Wednesday’s budget drama at approximately 10:20 a.m. when he heard screaming from behind a closed door, followed by a shout for police assistance.
Afterward, Killian said he saw Lowe — a Forsyth County Democrat — exiting the room, flanked by Democratic senators Floyd McKissick Jr. and Jay Chaudhuri. When he began filming with his phone, Lowe approached Killian.
Killian provided footage of the altercation with Lowe (see below for the video). In it, Lowe can be heard asking, “What are you doing with your camera?”
“I’m a journalist,” Killian began to reply, before Killian said Lowe grabbed at his hand to snatch his phone.
After a brief struggle, Killian says the two-term state senator, a pastor at a Winston-Salem church, threw Killian’s phone across the room and stormed away. Killian says he was not injured in the altercation. [Read more… ]