Lawmakers set late April return date

The N.C. legislature returned to Raleigh today for a “mini” session to address several outstanding funding items and make a final attempt to override Gov. Cooper’s budget veto in the Senate as a very long “long session” finally came to an end.

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger predicted in a press conference this morning that all 21 Senate Democrats would vote to uphold the governor’s veto of the state budget. Ultimately the override vote was pulled from the Senate calendar, and the General Assembly adjourned its 2019 long session with no state budget enacted. As a result, the state will fund recurring programs at their 2018 budget levels. 

The lack of a state budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year will also alter the activity in the upcoming “short session” cycle of the biennium. Traditionally the main objective of the short session is to make adjustments to the budget, but Sen. Berger said he does not anticipate the legislature “doing a second-year budget in the short session” per WRAL.

To recap, the GOP-led legislature and Democratic governor have found themselves at a budget impasse since summer. The General Assembly passed a handful of piecemeal spending bills that mirrored parts of the budget beginning in late August through roughly mid-September, most of which were signed into law by Gov. Cooper. 

No further legislative activity is expected until lawmakers return to Raleigh on Tuesday, April 28, to begin the short session of the biennium. Rumors as well as the overall context of an election year indicate that the short session will, in fact, be quite short.