RALEIGH, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Senate Republican leaders released their proposed 2021-2023 budget and it includes a provision limiting just how much power governors have during a state of emergency.
“The Republican legislature is essentially asking for a veto of this budget,” said Democratic Senator Mujtaba Mohammed.
Towards the middle of the over 400-page plan sits a provision that requires the Governor reach an agreement with the Council of State within ten days of enacting an executive order. If the Council of State and Governor agree the executive order is necessary, it would be in place for 45 days before expiring, unless legislators in the General Assembly vote to extend it.
Mohammed disagrees with the provision entirely,
“We can’t have that many folks dictating and essentially navigating through an emergency like we saw in COVID. We’ve got to rely on solid leadership, a foundation. That’s Governor Cooper, and he’s done a fantastic job,” Mohammed said.
The Council of State is made up of senior executive officers including the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, and other elected officials. Although many Democratic senators argue this provision is unnecessary, Senate President Pro Tem, Phil Berger, believes it is vital to give more North Carolinians a voice.
“We’ve gone through the past, what 14 months, of the governor basically having unfettered discretion to make decisions that have affected every aspect of life in North Carolina, that is not really consistent with our system of government,” Berger said.
Berger is referring to the over 100 executive orders Governor Cooper has made since March of 2020.
“We have a system that requires things to be debated, discussed, reviewed. And while not full consensus, at least more than one person making the decision,” Berger said.
Although, Senator Natasha Marcus, a Democrat from Mecklenburg County, thinks this will only give Republican leaders more power.
“Instead of saying, ‘Governor Cooper gets to get kudos for how well he has led our state through this as safely as possible,’ instead, they want to strip his powers and make it all political. They know that by requiring that he have the approval of the Council of State for the first time ever in our history, that that’s basically saying Republicans get to decide what to do in an emergency, even if the governor is a Democrat,” Marcus said.
North Carolina Senators are expected to vote on the proposed budget by the end of the week, from there it will head to the House for changes.