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"It's Gonna Be Awhile" - North Carolina's State Budget Standoff Well Into Second Month


North Carolina has been without a new state budget for more than a month now, and recent actions show a resolution between Republican leaders in the General Assembly and Democratic Governor Roy Cooper isn't likely on the horizon.

How long might the standoff between both sides last?  Dr. Chris Cooper (no relation to the governor), the head of the political science department at Western Carolina University, expects "it's gonna be awhile."  He sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss a variety of current topics in North Carolina politics.  You can listen to their talk above.

Dr. Cooper notes that this century, this is only the fourth-longest amount of time that a new state budget has been delayed because of disagreements between a governor and the General Assembly.  The most recent was in 2015, when then-governor Pat McCrory and his fellow Republicans in the General Assembly battled over a new budget into September.  Unlike the federal government, state government can not shut down without a new spending agreement.  

This particular squabble is over expanding Medicaid, which Governor Cooper wants expanded as provided under the Federal Affordable Care Act.  Expect this to be a major campaign issue and theme next year when the governor runs for re-election according to Dr. Cooper, who says the governor is taking a big risk by using the state budget as the battleground for his Medicaid expansion fight.  Another big issue for 2020 elections in North Carolina will be gun control.  Unlike what could happen in other states, Dr. Cooper doesn't anything to pass at the state level in North Carolina through next year, mostly because he believes there's a fracturing of blame on what caused the most recent shootings in El Paso and Dayton - white supremacist rhetoric, access to guns, and mental health.  Until there's some unity on how to address the issue, Dr. Cooper believes action on guns won't occur.

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016. Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C. For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor. Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis. Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.