North Carolina provides an excellent recent example. Despite strong opposition from Democratic Governor Bev Perdue (left) and assorted special-interest groups such as environmentalists, Planned Parenthood, and teachers' associations and even threats of Wisconsin-like rioting last week Republican legislators (under increased security) were able to pass the budget even though they were a few votes shy of having enough to override the promised veto. The override, however, passed with the help of Democrats.
The victory, as Republican leaders expressed it, was simply that of of obvious necessity over wishful statist thinking. Senate President Pro Tem Republican Phil Berger, put it thusly: "The budget we're looking at balances without a tax increase. Despite the governors frantic media campaign, apocalyptic rhetoric and creative accounting, the facts are clear: our $19.7 billion budget will do more for public classrooms and help the economy create more jobs than her own proposal.
House Speaker Thom Tillis had said he wanted the vote so that the legislature could move on to other issues: "Every day that we wait is another day that the agencies of state are wondering what they're going to do to plan for July 1. This is a bill we already made clear to the governor that we had the votes to override a couple of weeks ago." Other Republicans simply noted that they were doing what they were elected to do, rather like Scott Walker in Wisconsin. Senator Don East (R-Surry) said: "I don't think we've done anything other than what we promised." Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) summed up the feelings of many when he said: "Children are going to continue to learn. Everything's going to be fine. This Chicken-Little-sky-is-falling routine is getting a little old."
Unsurprisingly, the "Chicken-Little" dire predictions had come from special-interest groups which warned that if the budget were passed, teachers would lose their jobs; affordable health-care would be severely limited for the poor, especially children; land conservation programs would be gutted, etc. The harm, they claimed, would last not just for years, but for decades.
Republicans, however, stuck to their guns: no sales tax, no money for Planned Parenthood, reduced tax-dollar support for health care, reduced environmental regulations, and reduced taxpayer support for public schools and universities.
Governor Bev Perdue has consistently supported politically-correct causes: more money for public education, state financial support for Planned Parenthood, public healthcare support, environmentalism at the expense of jobs, etc. The background for the battle over the budget was made more dramatic by the fact that no Governor of North Carolina had ever before vetoed a state budget.
As she announced her veto, Perdue commented:
Tonight, the Republican-controlled legislature turned its back on North Carolina's long-standing commitment to our people to provide quality schools, community colleges and universities all to save a penny.
I vetoed the Republican General Assembly's budget because I believe it will cause generational damage to this state. We must have a highly trained workforce for our state to be globally competitive, and that education begins in preschool classrooms and continues all the way through our community colleges and universities. They are all equally important.
Conservative Republicans have long pointed out the problems that pro-life Americans have with Planned Parenthoods aggressive abortion agenda. They have opposed new taxes and insisted that government is gargantuan. They have accused liberal Democrats of being puppets for teachers unions. They have warned that environmentalism run rampant is destroying whole sections of the American economy.
The passing of this budget was a signal victory for the conservative Republicans who won last November in North Carolina and have since done exactly as they promised voters. Few, if any, of these Republicans had any support from teachers associations, environmental groups, Planned Parenthood, or the university professors and college administrators.
In Wisconsin, in New Jersey, and now in North Carolina, conservative legislators are actually operating as a force of opposition to statism, to organized ideologues used to getting their way with dire predictions and grim threats. The more of these battles conservatives win, the easier it will be for other state government leaders to be victorious in the same sort of conflicts.