by Brian Irving
For the seventh time in 10 years, the General Assembly was derelict in its duty to fulfill a major constitutional responsibility. The new fiscal year began without passage of a state budget.
It's no wonder North Carolinians have such a low opinion of government. Even though both houses and the governorship are controlled by the same party, they cannot complete this most basic government function. Although in session for six months, they've waited until the last minute to consider this important issue.
Not only were the competing budgets drafted in secret by a small, closed group of legislators, lobbyists and special interests group agents, these same people are now meeting behind closed doors to cut deals for a final budget. There's nothing fair, impartial, or reasonable, and certainly not democratic, about this process.
Perhaps if legislators actually read the state constitution they've taken an oath to uphold this problem wouldn't come up every year. Under that charter, the governor is responsible for drafting the budget. The state House and Senate can review it and make changes, and must approve it. But the fundamental responsibility rests with the governor.
There's no need at all for both houses to separately, and secretly, draft their own budgets – other than to score political points and provide cover for political favors.