RALEIGH, N.C. — House lawmakers met just after midnight on Wednesday to override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of the two-year state budget.
Perdue vetoed the $19.7 billion budget on Sunday, specifically criticizing its cuts in education spending. House rules did not allow for an override vote until Wednesday.
The House, where the GOP is four votes short of a super-majority, overrode that veto 73-46, with the help of five Democrats who voted for the bill when it passed originally.
Lead budget writer Rep. Harold Brubaker, R-Randolph, said the budget Perdue vetoed is only 1.5 percent smaller than her own spending plan. He said critics' warnings the budget will cost the state tens of thousands of jobs are exaggerated.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the sky is not falling," Brubaker said. "North Carolina will be living within their means."
But Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange, disagreed. "You cannot hide this budget in the dead of night," Hackney said. "It is the worst education budget in modern history."
"It is a sad, sad day for North Carolina," Hackney added.
Rep. Dewey Hill, D-Columbus, is one of the five Democrats who joined the GOP in voting to override the veto. He said he had many calls of support.
"We thought it was the best we could do," Hill said after the vote. "It's a good budget. I can go to sleep tonight on it."
"This budget is fiscally responsible and economically sustainable," House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said in a statement. "It reverses a decades-long trend of state government spending beyond its means and puts over a billion dollars back into the hands of North Carolinians. This is a good day for our state."
The majority Republican Senate is expected to vote on the override either Wednesday or Thursday.
Following the vote, Perdue issued a statement calling the budget shortsighted and irresponsible.
"Tonight, the Republican-controlled legislature turned its back on North Carolina's long-standing commitment to our people to provide quality schools, community colleges and universities – all to save a penny," she said.
State law requires the budget to be approved by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.
Perdue is North Carolina's first chief executive to veto a budget bill. The veto override is only the second in state history.
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