by Bob Geary
Gov. Perdue held a press conference this morning and announced that she will indeed send the General Assembly's budget back at them. The Republican-led G.A. has the option of:
1) Negotiating with the governor — and truly, her requests have been on the very small side in terms of dollars (but, as in the eugenics issue, sometimes the point isn't the sheer dollars) — or,
2) Taking their ball and going home — because, remember, the budget enacted a year ago is for two years, and what's before the body now is a bill to amend that two-year plan.
If the legislature's Republican leaders choose to quit for the year, leaving last year's budget in place, it would be "politics at its worst," according to Together NC, a progressive coalition. Their statement is below.
[It occurs to me to add that going home would not just be politics at its worst, it would stupid politics. Read Perdue's list of 20 budget issues. It's a roadmap for Democratic candidates in the fall. Now consider that Perdue is willing to accept their budget if the Republicans simply address a couple of her 20 issues and put another $100 million in the pot — which is available from current revenues and which would be a drop in the bucket of about 0.5% extra for a $20 billion plan. In other words, act like you're reasonable, and you disarm the Democrats. Makes sense to me ... but then I don't exactly think like your typical N.C. Republican.]
Perdue set out 20 ways the Republicans failed. Read 'em and weep.
Perdue issued a statement today about the budget's missing compensation for victims of forced sterilization —
RALEIGH – Announcing her intentions to veto the N.C. General Assembly’s budget, Gov. Bev Perdue today called on legislators to continue working to benefit citizens of North Carolina. She repeated her support for providing compensation to surviving victims of the state’s former forced sterilization initiative.
“They failed to take action on a bipartisan plan to compensate the verified living victims of the state’s former Eugenics Board program – which as, you know, involuntarily sterilized North Carolinians in the 20th century,” Gov. Perdue said. “It’s not a lot of money but a tremendous move for the state.
“We can’t change the terrible things that happened to so many of these vulnerable citizens in North Carolina. But I believe it’s long past time for us to take responsibility as a people for our state’s mistakes, and to show North Carolinians and the world that we do not tolerate violations of basic human rights.”
Gov. Perdue’s original budget designated $10.3 million to compensate verified victims and provide continued funding of the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims Foundation. This week, she urged a compromise of $5 million. At this time, it is unclear if lawmakers intend to provide funding to the N.C. Department of Administration for continued operation of the Foundation or require DOA to find dollars from existing programs.
While more than 30 states at one time operated eugenics programs, North Carolina implemented the most aggressive program and had been poised to become the first to provide financial compensation to verified victims. Last Wednesday, the Foundation suspended intake of new victim verification. Because its original 2009 allocation of non-recurring funding will expire at the end of the current fiscal year, it has been preparing to shut down on Saturday.
The House approved legislation earlier this month that reflected Gov. Bev Perdue’s call to pay $50,000 lump sum compensation to living victims, as well as funding for the Foundation’s continued operation and expanded outreach.
To date, the Foundation has confirmed matches with archived eugenics records to 161 individuals in 57 counties, including 146 living victims. Foundation Executive Director Charmaine Fuller Cooper said the increase reflects discovery of cases in which multiple siblings and entire families were sterilized. For data reported by the county in which a procedure occurred, visit http://www.doa.nc.gov/media/releases/showrelease.asp?id=0001-20JUN12.
Fuller Cooper noted that time is not on the side of aging victims. An updated estimate from the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics earlier this month revised down the number of likely living victims from about 1,500 to 2,000 to about 1,350 to 1,800.
Here's the statement from Together NC —
RALEIGH (June 29, 2012) — We support Governor Perdue’s decision to use her veto to negotiate a better budget for North Carolina. To be clear, the budget passed by the General Assembly last week falls far short of what is needed to restore investments in education, health care and public safety.
Now, the ball is in the legislature’s court. If they are unable to override the veto, legislative leaders can decide to work with the Governor to negotiate a compromise budget or they can leave town without approving revisions to the 2012-13 state budget.
We believe that it is the legislature’s responsibility to remain in Raleigh and to negotiate a compromise with the Governor. If legislators adjourn without revising the approved 2012-13 state budget, they will be responsible for the ensuing cuts to public schools and Medicaid. Such a refusal to negotiate would be politics at its worst.
And here's most of the statement from the N.C. Budget & Tax Center, part of the progressive N.C. Justice Center —
As the Governor mentioned, this budget fails to make adequate investments in the education of our children, well-being of our seniors and safety of our environment, all while keeping in place an ineffective tax break for wealthy North Carolinians.
There are better choices available to policymakers. Limiting the tax break passed last year to target small businesses is one option that would make greater reinvestment in our schools or Medicaid possible. The worst decision the General Assembly could make now is to not consider and work towards a better budget and go home. The result would be a budget that:
* Requires schools to return more than half a billion dollars a year in state funding
* Leaves the Medicaid program underfunded by more than a quarter of a billion dollars, impacting thousands of vulnerable North Carolinians' access to necessary medical care
* Continues to under-invest in the highway and road infrastructure necessary for our state's economy
It is critical that policymakers come together to work towards implementing a budget that takes into account the needs of our community and the means we have to support those needs. Leaving Raleigh without making an effort to develop a better budget will ignore the wishes of all North Carolinians who seek leadership that is focused on a better future for all.