Guest Editorial: Budget update: Keeping you in the know

Rep. Derwin L. Montgomery

Guest Editorial: Budget update: Keeping you in the know
July 17
15:47 2019

I hope that you were able to enjoy time with friends and loved ones during the Independence Day holiday. We returned to the General Assembly on Monday, July 8, just over a week after our fiscal year started, but without the luxury of a new state budget. To the surprise of few, the Governor vetoed the conference budget.

I supported the Governor and his veto, because overall this was not a good budget. It failed to properly compensate state employees, contained poor raises for teachers, and included a one-time bonus rather than a real COLA for retired state employees. This, in addition to the failure to expand Medicaid coverage to everyday North Carolinians who work but simply cannot afford health care coverage, makes this a bad budget.

The sad story in all of this is that the House and the Senate, mainly the Senate, has shown no desire to negotiate with the Governor on dealing with bringing coverage to more than 500,000 N.C. citizens. At least House leadership has allowed a form of expansion to move out of the Health committee, showing there is bipartisan support for the plan. The only drawback is this bill will not get a vote unless the Governor’s veto of the budget is overridden. To me, this seems like a fair compromise, but there is no guarantee that the Senate will take up the bill.

As many of you may have read, Rep. Terry and I have been courted to support an override of the veto. My response to those overtures is what resulted in the current movement of HB 655 (a form of Medicaid expansion). My position has been and will continue to be that I will support a budget that I don’t like if and only if we are able to see 20,000 residents of Forsyth County get health coverage, if we see over 2,000 healthcare-related jobs created in Forsyth County due to expansion, and the more than $20 million a year that will come to Forsyth County to cover the cost of expansion. We can see all of this if we pass HB 655.

To be clear, I do not believe that House or Senate leadership is blind to the issues that we face, but rather we disagree on how to deal with the problem. I learned a lesson a long time ago that the solution is on the other side of conversation. North Carolina deserves to have its leaders sit at the table to negotiate and give the state real solutions and not partisan gamesmanship.

I sat down personally with the Governor last week and he committed his willingness to negotiate. Let’s push our House and Senate leadership to do the same!

Rep. Derwin L. Montgomery

72nd District Representative

Raleigh, N.C .

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