Budget will deliver overdue pay increases for educators and state employees 

Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday that he intend to sign the legislative budget, citing necessary investments in teacher and state employee pay, critical infrastructure and aid to help families and businesses emerge from the pandemic stronger than ever. While not a perfect budget, the bill makes necessary progress that will support public schools, the economy and the lives of North Carolinians.

Cooper’s full remarks as prepared can be found below:

Good morning. As you know, North Carolina’s legislature has been working on a statewide budget for many months now that is expected to be on my desk by the end of the week. I and my staff have reviewed it.

I will sign this budget because, on balance, the good outweighs the bad. It moves North Carolina forward in important ways, many that are critical to our state’s progress as we are emerging from this pandemic.

And while I believe it is a budget of some missed opportunities and misguided policy, it is also a budget we desperately need at this unique time in the history of our state.

North Carolina has been without a comprehensive budget for almost three years. While I have a veto that I know would be sustained in the Senate, this is a time when the state must move ahead.

Too many important investments in this budget are overdue, particularly with the likelihood that the Republican leadership would respond to a veto by walking away from many of the good things that are in it. Right now, we can’t afford that.

This budget got many things right:

♦ Expanding high-speed internet across the state so people can access education, telehealth and work.

♦ Funding for our outstanding universities and community colleges, particularly our HBCUs, that are educating our workforce.

♦ Helping businesses recover from pandemic losses and expand to bring more jobs.

♦ Strengthening infrastructure so our growing state has clean, reliable water.

♦ The expansion of the Land and Water and Parks and Recreation Trust Funds.

♦ Funding to help Western North Carolina recover from Tropical Storm Fred.

♦ Helping more people get credentials and degrees, including an extension of my Longleaf Commitment scholarship program.

♦ Raises and bonuses for teachers and other hard-working state employees.

♦ Some tax relief for every day North Carolinians like the child tax deduction.

And a lot more.

Many of these were in my budget and my past budgets presented to the legislature.

But I am clear-eyed that there are ways we differed and places where the legislature got it wrong.

Most obviously, this budget fails to extend health care to hundreds of thousands of people by expanding Medicaid. While a study is some progress, real action remains painfully overdue.

At the same time, the legislature directs future tax breaks more toward corporations and the wealthy rather than the middle class and lower income North Carolinians.

This budget also makes unnecessary and politically motivated missteps that I believe should and will be overturned in the courts.

By signing this budget, I want to make it clear that I do not consent to the constitutionality of these provisions.

However, there are critical funding opportunities in this budget that we must seize now in this extraordinary time. Many of those opportunities would evaporate if I were to veto it and Republicans simply left Raleigh rather than re-entering negotiations. My veto, supported by legislative Democrats,­­­ has been an important and successful tool in making North Carolina a better place for people to live and work. I will continue to use it when I believe a bill causes more harm than good. I will also continue to reach across the aisle and work with this legislature in a bipartisan way whenever I believe the people will benefit from it.

However imperfect this budget is, our schools, our communities, our small businesses, our families need our help right now, especially as we recover from this pandemic.

I will sign this budget because of its critical and necessary investments and I will fight to fix its mistakes.NC Gov. Cooper

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