The Veto Governor

Gov. Bev Perdue has declared repeatedly that she wants to be remembered as North Carolina’s “jobs governor”, but the 2011 legislative session has cemented her place in history for a completely different reason: her vetoes. Perdue has vetoed more legislation than every previous governor combined. A governor previously mocked for never seeming to do anything except attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies and other photo ops has become crucial for protecting the North Carolina Left. Her 15 vetoes have shown the governor has a far more liberal tilt than she tries to project to the public.

The first veto of the 2011 session came in late February, as Republicans scrambled to pre-emptively address the anticipated $2 billion budget hole for the 2011-12 fiscal year. The Balanced Budget Act of 2011 used a variety of measures to utilize pots of money to set aside for the coming budget year, including transferring funds away from economic incentive programs. Perdue objected to these transfers and issued the first veto of the year.

Perdue’s next veto related to the intrusive “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (Obamacare). On March 5, Perdue vetoed HB2, the “Healthcare Freedom Act.” The measure would have allowed North Carolina to join the Florida multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare in challenging its constitutionality.  While progressive groups cheered, many stated Perdue’s veto constituted a de facto endorsement of the highly unpopular federal healthcare overhaul. This fact will doubtlessly be used against her during her re-election campaign.

Perdue’s next three vetoes came in the middle of the long session on April 13 and 16. The first veto struck down a reform of the state employee’s health plan, which was quickly reformed and resubmitted to the governor. The second attacked a bill allowing community colleges to opt out of a federal loan program. Community college presidents asked for the legislation in order to curb their fears that their institutions would lose federal money if the default rates on these loans increased.

The third of the trio would foreshadow the budget battle that shook Raleigh two months later. By April, North Carolina had lost its eligibility to receive extended unemployment benefits for many of its unemployed. Republicans quickly passed legislation changing the formula to calculate the unemployment rate, keeping checks flowing to North Carolina’s considerable numbers of jobless citizens. However, a provision in the bill would have enacted a continuing resolution if the budget was not passed by June 30. The continuing resolution would have set spending at 87 percent of the amount contained in Perdue’s budget proposal, until a final budget bill was finalized. Perdue vetoed this legislation over her objection to the continuing resolution.

The unemployment benefits extension fight continued into the budget debate. Perdue later issued an executive order of dubious legality restoring the funds, just as Republicans were about to pass a budget doing the same thing.

North Carolina’s budget was in shambles at the start of the biennium. The economic downturn had cratered tax revenue, federal stimulus dollars had dried up, and the previous General Assembly had used many of the one-time fund transfer and other gimmicks to temporarily paper over budget holes. A temporary sales tax increase was due to expire, and Republicans refused to consider extending the tax they had explicitly campaigned against.

Nevertheless, Perdue presented a budget that retained most of the tax increase. Republicans countered with House and Senate versions of a budget that reduced taxes on small businesses, allowed the sales tax increase to expire, and spent less than the governor’s proposal.

Negotiations with five moderate Democrats produced a compromise budget that preserved Teacher Assistant funding and cut the difference between the governor’s budget and the GOP’s to only $200 million.  The compromise legislation passed by veto proof margins in both the Senate and House.

When liberal groups slammed the proposed budget bill, the governor’s office hinted at her disapproval of the legislation, so it came as little surprise when she issued the state’s first-ever veto of the state budget.

The so-called “Party of Five” moderate Democrats held firm despite enormous pressure from their own party, and soon joined with House and Senate Republicans to counter Perdue’s historic veto with their own history-making event: the first budget veto override.

In the rushed final weeks of the session, Republicans passed reams of legislation, much of it Republican priorities stymied by previous Democratic majorities. By the June 14 session adjournment, Republicans had placed over 200 bills on her desk.  Perdue, while still attacking the budget, declared that she had her veto stamp ready. She had ten days to either sign, ignore, or veto the bills.

Perdue quickly used her stamp on Senate Bill 727, the “No Dues Check Off for School Employees Act”. The act ended the NCAE’s ability to use the state to collect automatic dues from members’ paychecks.

Next, on June 23, came House Bill 351, the “Restore Confidence in Government Act,” which sought to prevent voter fraud by requiring photo ID at the polling place. Despite consistent polling that revealed well over 70 percent of North Carolinians favored the measure, Perdue listened to her liberal allies and vetoed the legislation.

Senate Bill 33, Medical Liability Reforms, which capped non-economic awards in medical liability lawsuits to $500,000, was vetoed on June 24. Perdue claimed to be in favor of malpractice reform, but wanted language expanding exceptions to the cap.

Perdue utilized her stamp twice on June 27. In a move that surprised few, Perdue blocked House Bill 854, the “Woman’s Right to Know Act”, which required women considering abortion to listen to a standard set of information about abortion, view an ultrasound, and then wait 24 hours before making a decision. Perdue claimed the legislation interfered with the doctor-patient relationship (although she apparently had no problem with Obamacare’s many onerous intrusions). Perdue also vetoed House Bill 482, “Water Violations Wavers,” claiming constitutional issues.

Perdue waited until June 30 to issue her verdicts on the remaining 11 bills left on her desk. Four of them did not meet her approval. Senate Bill 496, which altered some provider requirements for the state’s Medicaid program, and Senate Bill 532, which altered unemployment benefit requirements and moved the Employment Security Commission to the Department of Commerce, were vetoed for supposedly violating state and federal laws on eligibility requirements for these programs.

Senate Bill 709, the “Energy Jobs Act,” (the “fracking” bill) was vetoed because the Governor felt it intruded on her executive authority, but she issued executive orders accomplishing many of the legislation’s goals.

The most surprising veto of the day was Senate Bill 781, the “Regulatory Reform Act.” This legislation was a major priority for the North Carolina business community, as it cut back on the regulatory authority of state agencies and made the rulemaking process more transparent. SB 781 had looked destined for the governor’s signature, as she had championed the need for regulatory reform. However, the governor vetoed the bill for moving some authority from state agencies into the Department of Administration.

In her veto messages, Perdue claimed to have supported the goals behind all four pieces of legislation and urged lawmakers to alter the bills. Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R-Rockingham), however, did not buy Perdue’s explanations stating:

“Not so long ago, Gov. Perdue claimed to champion several of the issues she rejected. An indecisive, politically-desperate politician trying to cater to her base, she now stands squarely with fringe environmental groups and liberal special interests in opposing the job-creating sector of North Carolina’s economy.”

Without the cover of a Democratic majority in the General Assembly, Perdue has had to choose between pleasing her base and adhering to the views of a state that leans towards social and economic conservatism.

Perdue has chosen to veto major pieces of legislation when they threaten her base, such as the budget, abortion legislation, and changes to election laws.  Her vetoes of regulatory reforms, unemployment changes, and other bipartisan legislation, even when prefaced with statements of support for the legislations’ intentions, have aggravated an already rough relationship with Republicans, especially when they view the vetoes as concessions to liberal interest groups.

Gov. Perdue has consistently been ranked as one of the weakest incumbent governors in the nation, with low approval ratings. However, her approval ratings have ticked up recently as more Democrats begin to appreciate her veto power. It remains to be seen if Perdue’s use of the veto stamp will continue to bolster her image on the left without harming the moderate image she needs to win re-election.

 

This article was posted in Legislative Activity by Neal Inman on July 5, 2011 at 3:46 PM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at http://www.nccivitas.org/2011/the-veto-governor/

Comments on this article

  • 1

    Don Surrette
    Don Surrette Jul 06, 2011 at 7:28

    Governor Purdue and Senator Hagan both have a lot in common, they both cannot read the bills and will serve one term!!!!

  • 2

    Lindsay Michaels
    Lindsay Michaels Jul 06, 2011 at 7:32

    All you stupid idiots who voted this socialist into office get what you deserve. How did you NOT realize what she was? I understand she is an heir to a chain of stores, her money is set, so what does she care what the rest do? I have never seen such a sorry state in all my life, NC is right behind Kalifornia in giving everything to illegals. On top of that, every other person, it seems, is on the dole. I have never seen so many people living off of the backs of others as in that state. And if you are productive and work? You are the sucker as NC taxes your income almost as high as the FEDS do, and you get to try and survive on what’s left, while the parasites sit back with their feet up and have cash jobs on the side in many cases. They get to go to the gym, and you’re schlepping to work. I have a house for sale in NC.

  • 3

    Floyd Hardee
    Floyd Hardee Jul 06, 2011 at 7:36

    Gov. Perdue has clearly shown that she does not support main stream public opinion. How could she not want you to show an identification picture, or card to protect our system from fraduenlent voters? Why does she want higher fuel prices which hamper business growth and hurt everybody? Why does she want higher taxes when we are already hurting? She appears to be doing everything she can to hurt, not help us recover from the economic mess we are in. She needs to go along with her Liberal colleagues, and her esteemed leader, President Obama, who is not esteemed by me, and who is steadily losing steam all across the country!

  • 4

    Michael Dowling
    Michael Dowling Jul 06, 2011 at 8:55

    Gov. Perdue has clearly shown that she supports the people of North Carolina, those that are trying to feed and educate their children, those that are trying to make ends meet and those who are protecting our citizens and the environment. I am proud that she is our Governor. Keep up the good work Governor!

  • 5

    Jeff Johnson
    Jeff Johnson Jul 06, 2011 at 9:07

    Notice how there exists this almost deafening silence when it comes to the media’s coverage of Perdue’s vetos. Not only were the bills popular with the public, but their time had come. A perfect example is the potential for voter fraud given the number of illegals present in NC or the need to cut government expenses placing the burden of collecting dues upon the respective unions. As appears to be the trend all over the country, the media constitutes the fifth wheel of Democratic politics. And, as in this case, they do so not by loudly proclaiming their allegiance to the left but by their silence. The more that silence is shattered by voices detailing media inconsistency and left wing bias the sooner a more balanced coverage will be presented.

  • 6

    Jim Carrino
    Jim Carrino Jul 06, 2011 at 10:59

    It is obvious that Governor Perdue is in over her head. All she has
    done in office is smile and attend ceremonies while dripping with southern school girl charm but not giving any real leadership for North Carolina and its jobless. She certainly will be a “one timer” come the next election. Her current poll numbers are embarrassing.(Enjoy the mansion while you can Bev, for you will be returning to New Bern shortly)

  • 7

    Barry W.
    Barry W. Jul 06, 2011 at 15:14

    I have been throughly disappointed in her performance thus far. She truly doesn’t understand how to lead people. It’s her way or no way. I switched from a life-long Democrat in 08, and now vote Republican. I’ll never change either. I did vote for her in 08, but not again. Obama is ruining our great Country, and Perdue votes along with aything he presents.

    I surely hope that she is a one term Governor.

  • 8

    Lee M
    Lee M Jul 07, 2011 at 10:18

    Nothing Perdue does surprizes me…I knew she was just another Dem Hack, just like Easley. SHE DOES NOT REPRESENT THE MAJORITY OF NC CITIZENS!!! Anyone who has been around the State knows that and hopefully will voice it in 2012! The people who are struggling to make ends meet are the same ones $supporting$ her with our very high taxes and special interest favors.
    She’s made it very clear she approves of VOTER FRAUD by her veto of House Bill 351…

  • 9

    Greybeard
    Greybeard Jul 10, 2011 at 18:23

    Firstly, I would like to know who Neal Inman is. A Google search found only 1 Neal Inman of ‘note’; a benefits consultant in Minneapolis! If this guy is a voice we should listen to, shouldn’t he HAVE a recognized voice in North Carolina affairs?
    Secondly; There are many more people on HER side of these arguments than on Mr. Inman’s, and her support is growing, as he grudgingly acknowledges. The respondents here are sore losers with an axe to grind.
    Last; Support for Democratic values that favor the true middle class instead of the Washington version of “small business”, this support is growing nationwide as Repubes far overreach, abandoning their alleged ‘laser-like’ focus on jobs creation to pursue a micromanaging of personal freedoms far beyond any “big government agenda” Democrats have ever contemplated.
    Face it, folks. Our State, and our Country, are voting Democratic overwhelmingly this next election. If you don’t believe it, visit a hardware store, a feed store, or a neighborhood beer joint and listen to the voices of the voters. You blew it big time.

  • 10

    Jack Thompson
    Jack Thompson Jul 14, 2011 at 16:14

    I most certainly haven’t heard of you, Greybeard, so does that mean that we shouldn’t bother listening to a word you say? What constitutes recognized anyway?

    Furthermore, no, there are not a vast majority on Perdue’s poll numbers. She has, time and again, been cited as one of the nation’s most vulnerable governors and while her blatant ideological vetos do much to rile up her base, it shows to independents that she is a weak and ineffective governor. She is incapable of compromising and instead insists that it is “her way or the highway.” That is not how a democracy works. We’ve had to put up with Obama’s awful policies for 2 years and the Democratic stranglehold on NC’s government for over 100. The people said enough in 2010 and kicked the lefties out, despite their horrifically blatant gerrymandering that has resulted from years in power.

    You want to talk about who is hurting the middle class? It’s Bev. She vetoed a massive regulatory reform bill which would have made running a business, and therefore creating jobs, a much simpler task. And do you know why she vetoed it? Because it took away some of HER power! She vetoed it because the bill took away administrative powers from her agencies so that they couldn’t essentially overturn judicial decisions. This veto was just overridden in the Senate… unanimously! She’s so far left that her own party said that this veto was baseless.

    Finally, the Republicans have not abandoned their job creation agenda. The budget was specifically designed to prevent tax increases which would have DESTROYED job creation but Perdue showed that she was more in favor of buying votes with typical liberal tax ‘n spend policies than creating jobs. She vetoed the regulatory reform act, as previously mentioned, and thus has shown her opposition to job creation. Furthermore, she vetoed the fracking bill. You want jobs? Energy is big money and would have brought lots of jobs to the state. She vetoed it in order to please her environmentalist buddies. Buddies who tote around the hypothesis that fracking will pollute groundwater to the point of flammability (a hypothesis proven to be less than likely when the director of the video opposing fracking admitted that the groundwater he used had been notorious for having a naturally high methane content and thus had been known to be flammable long before hydraulic fracturing had ever taken place).

    Face it, she’s pleasured her base but she’s screwed over the rest of the state for it and Dems. are going to pay this coming election.

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