Executive Watch: Cooper Proposes Greener Budget
In his annual budget proposal to the General Assembly, Gov. Roy Cooper included dramatic funding increases for water pollution control and public health protection. And unlike the previous two years, he’ll now have the leverage to negotiate some of these items into the final budget, thanks to the election of more pro-environment legislators last fall.
Environmental highlights of the Cooper budget include:
- More staff for water pollution detection and regulation, including an additional 37 full-time position equivalents [FTEs] to address “emerging contaminants” like GenX
- Major increases in grants through the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, as well as boosts to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
- Nearly a billion dollars in additional funding for clean water infrastructure, including water and sewer treatment system improvements.
Cooper’s 2017 and 2018 budgets fell mostly on deaf ears with the majority party which then had veto-proof control. He vetoed both of their ultimate budgets, and those vetoes were easily overridden, mostly along party lines.
But following significant gains by his party’s candidates in November 2018, Cooper has significantly more leverage to get favorable outcomes during budget negotiations. Even if he ultimately vetoes the final product, this proposal goes to a General Assembly in which Cooper’s allies have sufficient votes to block any party-line veto override effort. The majority party knows this, and may be forced to include items they otherwise would not because of the threat of that sustained veto and the prospect of staying in Raleigh months past the soft early July deadline to pass a budget
The changes in legislative membership following last year’s elections included a big increase in environmental champions supported by NCLCV’s Conservation PAC.
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