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by Chris Fitzsimon
(Editor’s note — this column was written Friday before Tuesday’s vote that overrode the governor’s vetoes)
It now seems very likely that Republican lawmakers will ignore the wishes of Republican Governor Pat McCrory next week and vote to override his vetoes of two bills, one that would require drug testing of some applicants for public benefits and one that would expand the exemptions under the E-Verify system to make it easier for growers to hire temporary workers.
News accounts previewing next week’s session make it clear that most legislators who supported the bills originally plan to vote to sustain the vetoes.
McCrory urged legislative leaders not to convene at all. That would mean the vetoes would stand. That is clearly not happening as the House and Senate are both returning Tuesday and at this point seem likely to hold votes that McCrory will lose.
It’s a scenario that speaks volumes about who really runs Raleigh these days. And it is not Governor McCrory.
That was clear the first month of the 2013 legislative session when McCrory sent a letter to Senate leaders asking them to delay consideration of a bill to refuse Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act that would have provided health care coverage to 500,000 low-income adults who are uninsured.
Senate leaders completely ignored McCrory’s plea and passed the bill the same day they received his letter asking for a delay. They are ignoring him again now.
A panicked administration attacks the media
Speaking of the governor, what would a week be without another off-the-cuff comment that makes you wonder what he’s thinking?
McCrory reportedly told a business audience in Asheville recently that his critics, including members of the media, simply don’t understand his economic agenda that includes the tax plan passed by the General Assembly that gives big breaks to wealthy individuals and out of state corporations while asking low and moderate income families to pay more.
McCrory added that it was “too complex” for journalists because they don’t have economics degrees.
That prompted one reporter to point out that McCrory doesn’t either. He graduated from Catawba College with degrees in education and political science.
McCrory’s spokesperson also attacked the media this week, criticizing a straightforward story by the Associated Press that pointed out the incorrect claims McCrory made about how two 24-year-old former campaign staffers were placed in top positions at the Department of Health and Human Services and given massive raises.
It’s always a sign that politicians are panicking when they start bashing the media that covers them.
Never mind those pesky facts
McCrory’s insult to reporters comes the week after he told WLOS in Asheville that the reason teachers didn’t receive a pay hike this year was that he “inherited a terrible, terrible budget from the previous administration and I’ve got to rebuild that budget.”
As several reporters and columnists pointed out, McCrory did not inherit a budget from the Perdue Administration. He inherited a budget from the Republican General Assembly that adopted it over the objections and veto of Governor Perdue.
The governor is apparently not going to let the facts stand in the way of what he thinks is a good sound bite, whether it’s his absurd claim about wading out among the Moral Monday protesters or that it was President Obama’s fault that people lost emergency unemployment benefits because he didn’t issue the state a waiver for the cuts the General Assembly made to the state unemployment program.
Only Congress can issue that waiver, not the president, as McCrory’s press office was forced to admit, calling McCrory’s remarks a misstatement. Two days later McCrory said the same thing to a Wilson Daily Times reporter.
McCrory said on several radio stations that concerns about the reduction in the number of days for early voting in the voter suppression bill he signed were overblown because “every precinct” would be open every day in the two weeks before an election.
That’s ridiculous of course, but he said it multiple times in multiple interviews.
Then there is McCrory’s repeated assertion teachers will receive the equivalent of a 1-percent pay increase in the tax plan that he signed.
The tables released with the tax plan show that an individual must earn $250,000 a year to receive a 1-percent tax increase. So maybe it’s partially true.
Maybe all the public school teachers in North Carolina who make $250,000 will get that pay hike.
The real question is when will the governor stop playing fast and loose with the facts?
—Chris Fitzsimon is executive director of N.C. Policy Watch, and independent project of the N.C. Justice Center.