North Carolina releases plan to fight opioid abuse


Only a similar House vote stands in the way of the budget becoming law.

Legislation presented to him earlier this month increased the fee that companies could charge someone who is excessively late on their regular installment payment for something he or she has purchased. Last month, Governor Cooper and Secretary Cohen, along with Attorney General Josh Stein, announced a grant to fight the opioid epidemic at SouthLight Healthcare in Raleigh.

The previous law had limited the default charge to no more than 5 percent of the installment payment or $6, whichever was less.

The bill also includes average teacher raises of 3.3 percent next school year and 9.6 percent over two years.

The Republican plan "doesn't even come close to what I had proposed for teacher pay", Cooper said, surrounded by members of the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state's largest teacher lobbying group and a longtime Cooper ally. "We will too, by quickly overriding his veto".

In a press conference flanked by North Carolina teachers, Cooper acknowledged the GOP super-majority in the N.C. House and Senate have the votes to override this veto as well.

In an email, Lew Ebert, president and CEO of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, called the "competitive" tax changes "one of the many necessary ingredients to being one of the best states to do business, which in turn allows us to invest in education and infrastructure".

"It is literally pie in the sky", he said referring to Cooper's calculations, "and maybe that is what he hopes it is so that he can criticize it, but that's just not the case". Cooper had sought at least 10 percent over two years. First-year teachers, whose base salaries in recent years have increased to $35,000, wouldn't get more. Standard deductions also would increase. Cooper said the raises do not go far enough and he said the budget prioritizes tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations. Both rates have already dropped multiple times since the first tax GOP overhaul was approved in 2013.

Reading his own letter to Cooper, Senate leader Phil Berger said during the override debate that the budget contained many ideas that Cooper sought publicly, including a tax cut for the middle class and expanded pre-kindergarten for at-risk 4-year-olds.

A budget veto has been anticipated.

The veto announcement could set the stage for the General Assembly to adjourn its annual work session by this weekend. "I think the compromise budget between the House and the Senate was a very balanced compromise budget".