The North Carolina state budget for the next two years will include a plan to eliminate the state’s corporate tax rate, the Associated Press reported.
Governor Roy Cooper announced that he would sign the Republican draft budget despite many “missed opportunities”. He said at a press conference that he would sign the bill because the good “outweighs the bad” in it.
“I will sign this budget because of its critical and necessary investments,” Cooper said during the press conference, “and I will fight to fix its mistakes.”
The bill would end the current corporate income tax rate of 2.5 percent, which is already well below the federal average. However, the exit plan would begin at the end of Cooper’s tenure as governor in 2025.
More bipartisan laws have also been passed in the budget. According to the AP, the new funding will allow the average salary for teachers across the state to increase by up to 5 percent over the next two years. Public school staff will also be earning at least $ 15 an hour from fall 2022.
The budget is slated to spend $ 25.9 billion this year and $ 27 billion next year. In addition, $ 5.9 billion will be allocated to college buildings and government facilities, while $ 800 million will go to lottery funds to build public schools.
“This is a time when the state needs to move forward,” said Cooper. “Too many major investments in this budget are overdue.”
More coverage from the Associated Press can be found below.
North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is hosting a meeting on Nov.
AP Photo / Bryan Anderson
Cooper was holding the press conference at the same time the Senate was preparing the budget debate. He said the state needs a large budget to meet the needs of students, small businesses, and taxpayers as North Carolina emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooper had already signaled his readiness to sign the bill last week after he, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore had been in serious negotiations for nearly two months. With a spending schedule 4 1/2 months late, North Carolina is currently the only state in the nation without an approved budget, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The Senate planned to hold the first of two required votes on Tuesday, with the House of Representatives to follow on Wednesday. Cooper’s announcement is likely to unleash more Democrats to support the move without taking criticism from their own party.
Cooper had never enacted a traditional, comprehensive state budget and vetoed it in 2017, 2018 and 2019. In 2020 there was no such draft budget.
While Republicans lack veto-proof majorities this year, Cooper, Berger and Moore signaled that things could be different. With massive government revenue surpluses combined with over $ 7 billion in federal COVID-19 aid, Republican budget drafters have attracted many Democrats with financial and political sweeteners for their communities.
During Cooper’s first two years in office, the Republicans overwritten his budget veto because they had veto-safe majorities. In 2019, after the Democrats won seats, Cooper’s veto could not be lifted by the Republicans, resulting in a stalemate with GOP leaders that was never fully resolved.
That year, Republicans managed to get more than a dozen Democrats “yes” votes to previous versions of the budget bill – more than enough for an override if they stayed with Republicans. All 13 were put on the negotiating teams for a final budget and all signed the “conference report” which the legislature will vote on.
Cooper said Tuesday he still believes Senate Democrats would have been able to maintain a budget veto, but said he was concerned that Republican lawmakers would simply step down from budget negotiations if that happened.
Ordinary government employees will also be increased by 5 percent over a period of two years and will receive at least $ 1,000 in bonuses. And all retirees receive a one-time bonus of 5 percent during the same period.
Cooper will also have to swallow a provision contained therein that would limit his emergency powers, for example during the pandemic.
The language says that a governor would need the support of a majority of the Council of State members to extend a declaration of emergency beyond 30 days. The general assembly would have to act to make one go beyond 60 days. The governor vetoed a separate bill with similar language two weeks ago, partly complaining that it would have come into effect immediately. The budget has postponed the start to January 2023.