About Last Week’s Budget Vote in NC: It Really Was Dishonest

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I’m hearing some disingenuous comments from House Republican leadership about their budget vote last week. Here are my responses.

GOP: “The vote was on the calendar!”

Response: Yes, just as it was on the calendar *every day* for 60 days prior. Rather than simply call a vote — which they knew they would lose — Republicans laid siege the the House Democrats, forcing all of them to be at every vote for two months, resulting in one of them having to attend session while receiving cancer treatment — which she did, dutifully. But there were going to be *two* sessions on this particular day — one in the morning and one in the afternoon. The afternoon session was going to be the one with votes. The fact that it was on the calendar had nothing to do with that morning’s session, which Democrats were told would have no votes.

GOP: “Democrats weren’t told there would be no votes!”

Response: Yes, they were — and there’s a lot of proof. Rep. Lewis — a top House Republican — directly told the Democratic Minority Leader that there would be no votes that morning. Rep. Lewis also texted the exact same thing to Laura Leslie, one of our main political reporters at the capital. She even reported on it and included her text exchange in the story (photo below; here’s the source).

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Text exchange between Rep. David Lewis and reporter Laura Leslie

Additionally, there was a House Finance committee meeting scheduled at 9:00 a.m. The only way the committee meeting would be possible is if the 8:30 a.m. floor session had no votes — otherwise the voting session would have run into the committee meeting. Also, note the crafty denial from the Speaker’s office about this. The Speaker says that *he personally* did not say there would be no votes. And that’s correct: It was his top lieutenant, Rep. Lewis.

And here’s this analysis from Sen. Don Davis:

Of the 815 votes cast in the NC House this session, there has been no other vote that matches the number of members absent. Moreover, I decided to take a close look at the voting records of those individuals in the House’s minority party who didn’t cast votes on the budget veto. Collectively, their voting record is 99.12%. Occasionally, one of these individuals may miss a vote without an excused absence, but it is infrequent — less than 1% (.88% to be exact).

GOP: “Democrats should have been there anyway!”

Response: This comment is the most frustrating because Republicans know perfectly well what it means to actually work in this building. There are empty, procedural sessions that happen in both chambers almost every single day. Rather than spend time on an empty House floor just waiting for someone to bang a gavel, legislators use that time to attend committees or meet with constituents. As citizens, you do not want your representatives spending their time in an empty room — you want them working. That said, we’re now unfortunately in a situation where we have to attend every single “non-voting” session because of what occurred. I spent six hours in my car last Friday — to and from Charlotte — to be on the floor for a ten second session, just to make sure they didn’t pull anything. (By the way, no Republicans were there.) And — *while I was typing this* — we had another non-voting session. (Again, lasted ten seconds, no Republicans present.)

There is just no way around it. What happened last week was outright corruption. It was every bit as bad as you think and it has created a highly unfortunate, zero-trust environment.

You deserve far better leadership.

North Carolina State Senator

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