Hurricane Relief, Rural Broadband, Opioid Treatment & Historic Tax Credits All Blocked
It has been 25 days since Governor Cooper vetoed the bipartisan $24 billion state budget because it does not include his demands for expanding government-run Medicaid in North Carolina. In the meantime, the Governor's "Medicaid-or-nothing" strategy on the budget is denying key resources to those in need, especially in rural communities across North Carolina.
Deputy House Majority Leader Brenden Jones (R-Columbus), whose community is still waiting for hurricane recovery assistance from the Cooper Administration, slammed the Governor for holding the budget hostage and once again putting partisan politics ahead of the people of rural North Carolina:
"It is beyond frustrating that the Governor would choose to play politics with something as important as our state's budget, which includes critical resources for things like hurricane recovery for our rural communities. My community is still waiting for the Governor to deliver funds for Hurricane Matthew nearly three years after the storm made landfall. Yet, he is willing to use these much needed resources as leverage to force Medicaid expansion. This marks a new low for the Governor and I hope the people of rural North Carolina do not forget."
Lawmakers continue to ask the Governor to have a separate debate on Medicaid expansion - and not tie it together with something as important as the state's budget. They point to the fact that the budget passed by the General Assembly already includes a special provision that allows the Governor to call the legislature back for a special session this fall to discuss health care and Medicaid expansion.
Key Funding for Rural Communities Being Blocked
- $112 million for disaster relief needs, grants, repairs & more.
- $150 million over the next decade for expanding rural broadband through the GREAT Program.
- $15 million to fight the opioid epidemic by increasing access to substance abuse treatment and recovery options.
- Extends Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit, which has successfully helped rural communities revitalize downtowns.
- 5% salary increase for most state employees - the largest salary increase in more than a decade.
In addition, the Governor's budget strategy is blocking critical funding for teacher raises, school construction and student safety - creating significant uncertainty as a new school year fast approaches.