Politics & Government

A ‘few hundred dollars’ back to NC taxpayers? Senate leader floats refund idea

NC Senate leader Berger responds to Gov. Cooper’s veto of budget

N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger talks about his response after Gov. Roy Cooper held a press conference announcing he would veto the budget Friday, June 28, 2019.
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N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger talks about his response after Gov. Roy Cooper held a press conference announcing he would veto the budget Friday, June 28, 2019.

Senate leader Phil Berger says the state’s recent $896.7 million budget surplus should be refunded to taxpayers. Berger spoke about the surplus, which came in larger than expected, in an interview last week with the Spectrum News program “Capital Tonight.”

“I actually think that the right thing to do with that is to send that money back to the people that sent it to us,” Berger told Spectrum. “What we ought to be doing is thinking about how we can provide a refund to the taxpayers of the state of North Carolina. If they sent us more money than was needed last year for the budget, then I think they deserve to have some of it back.”

The idea hasn’t yet surfaced in any legislation, but Berger spokesman Pat Ryan provided a few more details in an email last week.

“We’re still crunching the numbers, but it would probably be a few hundred dollars for a couple filing jointly,” he said. “If we think there is a path forward, we’ll release more information once we’ve done some more homework.”

Ryan suggested that the proposal could be tied to the budget impasse. The budget bill allocates the $643 million surplus that was projected in May as the spending plan was crafted, with a sizable contribution to the state’s rainy day fund.

“If Gov. Cooper maintains his refusal to sign any budget unless Medicaid expansion first becomes law, and if the House is unable to override his veto, it would seem to make sense that we return some of this money to the people who sent it to us,” Ryan said.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that he plans to veto a GOP-backed state budget. It’s the first time Republicans don’t have enough members to override his budget veto on their own.

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