NC House overrides governor’s veto of state budget in “surprise vote”

Emily Broyles, Reporter

The lingering budget battle in the North Carolina House of Representatives has escalated after a surprise voting session Wednesday morning.

House Democrats and media reporters were informed no votes on the budget would be taken in the 8:30 a.m. session Wednesday. House Republican leaders called for a “surprise vote” during this time, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said in a news conference following the vote.

Republicans overrode Cooper’s veto for the budget with a vote of 55-9. Sixty four of the 120 members were present according to Democrat Rep. Ray Russell, who represents Watauga and Ashe counties.

“House Democrats could not be beaten in a fair, honorable process,” Russell wrote in a statement. “Instead, House Republicans resorted to a level of deception unprecedented in NC History.”

Russell said Democrats have been vigilant and have “held strong” under pressure caused by the budget ordeal. 

Russell said he has not missed a session since January until the surprise vote. 

“Members have been there in spite of surgery, cancer treatments, family crises; they have missed vacations, family time, you name it,” Russell wrote. “House Democrats have been there.”

 Republican Sen. Deanna Ballard, said that the vote was signified on the House calendar with ‘Veto Override’ on the agenda.

“While calendar changes are commonplace in the North Carolina legislature, the House calendar was published yesterday at 5:07 p.m. with the time listed as 8:30 p.m.,” Ballard wrote in a statement. 

Russell said the actions in the House were unhonorable, especially on 9/11.

“On what was supposed to be a Day of Remembrance, the actions of House Republicans dishonored the day and every person how (sic) has sacrificed for freedom and democracy,” Russell wrote. “Their actions were a sneak attack, dishonest at it’s core, and not worthy of the people in North Carolina.”

Ballard said although the Senate’s priority is redistricting committee meetings, she will stand by passing the budget.

“But as I voted in support of the budget, I will continue to work towards its passage and the many important items it includes for the citizens or our region,” Ballard wrote.

Items in the budget include salary increases for state employees, teachers, correctional officers and other law enforcement officials Ballardd wrote.

House Democrats are in favor of House Bill 655, Medicaid Expansion, being in the budget according to Russell.  

The veto has not been overridden in the Senate, so it still stands.