The North Carolina General Assembly has been playing a game of “Chicken” with Governor Cooper for the past month and a half. They are playing with house money and the biggest losers have been NC taxpayers.
For a political party that presents itself as fiscally conservative and a protector of taxpayer money they have proven quite comfortable wasting over a million taxpayer dollars, especially when half of it goes into their own pockets.
Governor Cooper vetoed the Republican led Assembly’s budget proposal on June 28th. Since NC voters decided last November that they wanted more balance in our legislature Republicans have been unable to control enough votes to override that veto. That should mean that good ol’fashioned compromise would be called for. But it isn’t.
Instead, Republican leadership has chosen to try to buy and steal their way into getting what they want.
For over a month the “Unfinished Business” of our state has topped the House Calendar. Day after day legislators must assemble in hopes of voting on this important legislation. And day after day House leadership waits to see if enough Democrats are absent from the floor for the vote. For the past month leadership has resorted to pork-barrel promises and bait-and switch tactics. House members have been kept sitting around while leadership hopes that someone will have to leave early, sessions have been convened for five minutes only to be recessed without any votes being taken. One day last week committees didn’t meet until the early afternoon (they usually meet in the mornings) and the session started at 5 p.m. The late session time caused a conflict with a legislative Town Hall planned to discuss the state budget with constituents. The meeting involved several Democratic legislators – whose absence would have helped the leadership’s effort to override the budget veto. The Democratic House members remained in Raleigh and only the voters suffered.
Last week there were four sessions with a total meeting time of less than an hour. Legislators get paid for a full day no matter how long they meet and no matter how little they accomplish. Each day costs NC taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.
Regardless of what these Republicans say, they are neither fiscally conservative nor protective of taxpayer money. In 2016 voters elected a Democrat Governor and in 2018 they voted to end the heavy handed partisanship of the super-majority. North Carolina is a “purple” state and that requires compromise. The Republican leadership of the General Assembly is still living in the dream-world of that super-majority, when they answered to no one except their wealthy donors, Political Action Committees and corporate interests.
Two months of arm twisting and pocket lining has failed to convince enough Democrats to jump ship. Two months of posturing and politicking has failed to win the required votes for an override. Now it’s time to govern. It seems that the Republicans in the General Assembly are incapable of doing that. Until they stop trying to undo the mess they’ve created they will never be able to complete the unfinished business of the people.