Budget standoff continues in Raleigh

By: Jael Pembrick - Staff writer

LAURINBURG — Rep. Garland Pierce, D-Wagram, and Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, spoke of compromise on the state budget earlier this week.

“All (people) are taxpayers and we want to be sure their dollars are spent wisely on the issue,” said Pierce. “In the proposed budget, the governor will take it in the right direction. It’s a budget that will benefit all North Carolinians — and compromise is not a dirty word. It gives everyone a chance to get to the table.”

Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republicans both offered compromise budgets — sparking talks of working together on Tuesday.

Cooper vetoed the General Fund budget June 28 and cited Republican leaders’ failure to include Medicaid expansion in the budget. He also criticized the Republicans for valuing “corporate tax breaks over classrooms, gimmicks over guaranteed school construction, and political ideology over people.”

Pierce said he is behind the governor’s new budget, which includes Medicaid expansion.

“I believe his stance on Medicaid expansion is one we need to consider,” added Pierce. “It costs more to amputate than to treat. So, let’s go on and get preventive medications on the table. Health care is so important.”

The state is more than a week into the new fiscal year and with no spending plan in place — the GOP-controlled legislature and Cooper so far5 remain deadlocked.

”The main thing is wondering what is going to happen with this budget,” said McInnis to WLNC. “The budget, in my opinion, was one of the best ever for Scotland County. It’s about 20 million for schools and for the airport runway — just a lot of opportunities that was available for Scotland County (in the vetoed budget).

He added that he hopes the governor will come around to finish the budget.

“It’s very childish, in my opinion, that he is letting one issue of Medicaid for all stop the whole budget process,” said McInnis on WLNC’s legislative update. “Hopefully clear heads will prevail, he will sober up and come around and we will get this thing done.”

Pierce said in going forward, the budget should reflect all the needs of North Carolinians.

For now, McInnis says the state is running on a continuation budget from the previous year.

“The state government will not shut down, all essential services are open and running,” said McInnis. “But our teachers will not receive raises, our state employees will not receive raises and money for the runway will not come until we get the budget clarified.”

Jael Pembrick can be reached at 910-506-3169 or [email protected]

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Jael Pembrick

Staff writer