In a stunning move aimed at punishing democrats for prolonging budget negotiations, a Republican majority in the North Carolina state Senate Friday passed an early morning budget amendment aimed at removing funding for school nutrition, science, math and technology programs for impoverished school children, and public works projects aimed at revitalizing towns that are struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Matthew. The funding losses appear to single out districts represented by Democratic senators.
In an email Saturday, a spokesman for North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper lamented the Republicans’ decision, saying:
Middle of the night budget games are rarely good for North Carolina families…In this case, Senate Republicans chose to cut funding for science and math class, access to fruit and vegetables in rural communities, and staff to work with the federal government to, among other things, bring hurricane recovery funds back to North Carolina. These are the wrong priorities.
The partisan move came after an all-night standoff between Senate Democrats and Republicans, with the Democrats refusing to be bullied into agreeing to pass the Republican budget without attempting to pass amendments that would improve it. Republicans voted down amendment after amendment, but the Dems persisted. At approximately 1 a.m. Friday morning, GOP Senator Bill Rabon called a recess in order to meet privately with fellow Senate Republicans.
When the session resumed at around 3 a.m., Republicans pushed through a new amendment aimed at combating opioid use. Republican Senator Brent Jackson, who introduced the amendment, failed to mention that the additional $1 million in funding for the new program would come straight out of programs benefiting mostly low-income families in the Democrats’ districts.
Democratic Senator Erica Smith-Ingram, whose district stands to lose funding from the cuts, had this to say regarding the Republicans’ childish move:
it will have a devastating effect on an area that is already suffering. The future of children should not be caught up in a political disagreement between members [of Congress]
We would have to agree with Senator Smith-Ingram.