THE RALEIGH REPORT
July 26, 2019
Update on the stalemate
Governor Cooper vetoed the Republican budget and offered an alternative that used the money much more wisely. Republicans, who have a majority in both chambers, declined his offers to negotiate a compromise. Until we pass a new budget, state expenditures continue under the old budget. House Republicans are holding up the vote on the veto over-ride hoping they can get enough Democrats to vote for it or waiting for enough Democrats to be absent that they can over-ride the veto on their own. The requirement is 60% of the members present and voting. That is not going to happen.
About two weeks ago, the House passed a stopgap bill that appropriated funds to cover the cost of our increased population in education and other state agencies. It also provided raises for state employees and authorized the expenditure of 2019-20 Federal funds across state government. The Senate passed a stopgap bill that authorized the expenditure of Federal funds that come through the NC Department of Health and Human Services.
The differences in the stopgap bills tell us a lot about the current stalemate on Medicaid expansion and the state budget. A Medicaid expansion bill would pass in the House with all Democrats and a significant number of Republicans voting for it. I believe House Republicans would also negotiate a reasonable compromise with Governor Cooper on the budget differences. Sen. Berger is holding up a vote on Medicaid expansion and he wants a corporate tax cut and to pay for capital construction with current recurring dollars instead of passing a bond. Finally, this week, we saw some movement. Sen. Berger said in an interview that the Medicaid expansion bills passed in Utah and Arkansas "did less damage." That may be due to a 45-minute meeting DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen had with Sen. Berger to explain the benefits of Medicaid expansion and to answer his questions.
Meanwhile, House Republicans continue to offer various Democratic legislators all kinds of perks if they will vote to overturn the Governor's veto: you can chair a committee next session, we will put your name on a college dorm, we will fund that festival you want that will increase business profits for your community. They have even offered to move 2,000 Department of Health and Human Services employees, including Sec. Cohen, from their Dix campus buildings to Granville County.
House Democrats learned this week that the Speaker may keep us in session through August. That's evidently in hopes enough Democrats will attend the National Conference of State Legislators and enough Republicans will stay home to get the necessary 60% of all members present and voting to overturn the Governorís veto. If the House stays in session, the Senate has little choice but to follow despite their bill to take a break until the last week in August.
Democrats know that abandoning their Governor would undermine our efforts to regain the majority in 2020. The prize for winning in 2020 is, of course, the 2021 redistricting. This veto over-ride isnít just about the budget or Medicaid; itís about 2021. Thatís why Republicans are doing everything they can to get the votes they need; and thatís why Democrats are cancelling their plans for the NCSL meeting and family vacations. I agree with the Governor; our best option is to sustain the budget veto, continue the pressure to pass Medicaid expansion and get all parties to the table on the budget.
How to Engage
It's tough to keep track of what is happening. Here are some ways to stay involved.
1. Call me or my legislative assistant Young Bae at 919-733-7208 or email me at Inskola@ncleg.net with How can I get involved in the subject line.
2. Follow us on Twitter at @verlainsko and Facebook at Verla Insko.
3. Visit ncleg.net where you can see bills, listen to session, and see daily calendars.
4. Help us spread the word on social media or by forwarding this newsletter and other alerts or key news items.
As always, thank you for your support of my work in Raleigh as your representative. Please let me know of your position on issues, your suggestions for legislation and your requests for help.
Please remember that you can listen to committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly's website at www.ncleg.net. Once on the site, select "Audio," and then make your selection Ė House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.