'The good outweighs the bad': Gov. Roy Cooper agrees to sign $25.9B budget NCGOP unveiled Monday

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
RAW: Gov. Cooper says he will sign $25.9B budget plan
"Overall it does move us in the right direction," Gov. Roy Cooper said about the compromise budget moving through the General Assembly.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Governor Roy Cooper on Tuesday announced he will indeed sign the proposed budget compromise bill now moving through the General Assembly, despite his many reservations.

"It's a budget that we desperately need at this unique time in the history of our state," Cooper said. "Too many important investments in the budget are overdue."

Here are some of the things Cooper said he likes about the budget:

  • -Broadband internet expansion
  • -Funding for community colleges & HBCUs
  • -Clean water infrastructure
  • -Park & recs trust fund
  • -Disaster relief
  • -Raises and bonuses for teachers
  • -Expanded child tax deduction

Here are a couple things he said he does not like about the budget:

  • -No Medicaid expansion
  • -Cutting corporate taxes

Cooper, now in his fifth year as North Carolina's Chief Executive, has actually never signed a budget; he vetoed budgets in 2017 and again in 2019. In 2017, however, GOP supermajorities in the General Assembly negated Cooper's leverage as both chambers voted to override the veto.

The dynamics changed in 2018 when Democrats broke those supermajorities in the Midterm elections, though the two sides failed to reach a compromise, forcing lawmakers to pass several "mini budgets" instead of a comprehensive deal. Those measures, while funding several government programs, never touched teacher pay or education spending as a whole.

The lack of a budget for the last three years weighed heavily on Cooper's decision to support the compromise, especially when it came to education funding.

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

The 647-page 2021 Appropriations Act, more formally known as Senate Bill 105, is worth $25.9 billion.

The Republican-led General Assembly unveiled its budget proposal Monday after more than two months of negotiations with Cooper and other Democratic lawmakers.

Republican leaders said they were confident Cooper would sign off on the bill, saying it was the culmination of months of "hard work and good-faith negotiations."

"Although we have many differences, we each had the common goal of coming together to create a spending plan for the state, one of the General Assembly's most important constitutional obligations. In the end, I am confident that we have come together to design a budget that truly meets the most critical needs of all North Carolinians." Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County) said

READ MORE: The full budget proposal (.pdf)

The budget includes more than 1,300 pages and works to fund several high-interest items over the next two years.

In the first year of the budget, fiscal year 2021-2022, the total spending will be $25.9 billion. The biggest expense in the bill is for education: a total of $14 billion, more than half of the total budget, for K-12 schools, UNC system universities, HBCUs and community colleges.

The expenditures will also cover long sought-after raises for teachers, who are slated to get an average raise of 5% over two years. All state employees, meanwhile, will also earn bonuses thanks to billions of dollars in federal grants from COVID relief packages like the American Rescue Plan.

Outside of salaries, the bill also includes $1.6 billion for capital improvements and infrastructure, $1 billion for broadband expansion and $283 million to expand the Port of Wilmington, among many, many, many other provisions.

The provisions in the budget, as always, include policies beyond spending.

After failing to overcome a veto earlier this year, Republicans are again hoping to limit the governor's emergency powers. This time, however, they extended the time frame for the Governor to flex those powers from seven to 30 days before the Council of State would need to approve further extensions. At 60 days, the General Assembly would get involved.

The policy also wouldn't take effect until 2023.

WATCH: Jonah Kaplan explains nuances of the budget battle

The budget, which includes more than 1,300 pages in total, includes several high interest items for the next two years.

The bill does not include Medicaid expansion, something that Gov. Roy Cooper has been fighting to get for years. However, it does call for a bipartisan committee to study the issue and make a recommendation to the general assembly next spring.

The bill also includes major tax cuts for corporations -- eliminating corporate tax within 10 years and lowering personal income tax to 3.99% over six years.

Cooper, himself, released his own budget principles last March, which totaled a record $27.4 billion. Cooper's proposal also included a 10% raise for teachers and principals over two years -- 5.7% in the first year and 4.3% in the second.

Democrats, however, were generally relegated to the sidelines as healthy Republican majorities in the House and Senate gave the GOP first dibs at passing the budget, which each chamber did earlier this summer. Leaders in the House and Senate, moreover, agreed in principle to a budget that spends $25.7 billion - nearly $2 billion less than Cooper's proposal.