Governor Roy Cooper spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Asheville visiting three area non-profits dedicated to service. The Governor spoke with News Thirteen about several current issues, including the budget stalemate tied to the fight over teacher pay and expanding Medicaid in the state.
“What you have is legislative leadership who won't let this happen,” said Cooper making a clear reference to the two Republican leaders House Speaker Tim Moore, and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger.
Republican State Representative Josh Dobson, who represents the 85th District of McDowell, Mitchell, and Avery counties, said he is open to helping North Carolinians with healthcare coverage, with a caveat.
“I’m in favor of finding a way to close the coverage gap,” said Dobson. “I’m not in favor of unfettered Medicaid expansion.”
The second issue also with a partisan line drawn is how much of a raise teachers should get.
Cooper said Democrats proposed a compromise 8.5% teacher raise over two years, while Republicans offered teachers a 3.9% raise, over two years in the budget.
“I’ve talked with teachers in my district who say I would love to have a 3.9% increase,” said Dobson. “And then there's another one on top of that, if we can get the budget passed.”
“We just want to try and find a middle ground,” said Cooper.
The budget includes 5% raises over two years for state workers. A mini-budget has been passed so those workers are receiving those raises.
“That's why the state employees association has fully endorsed this budget,” said Dobson. “It's very unfortunate we're at this gridlock and stalemate.”