Forget for the moment the question of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto imposed upon the Republican budget, and the compromises from the two camps that followed this week.
He could be forgiven for quashing the thing on pure principle, considering the manner in which the GOP has run roughshod over the state legislature for the last decade.
For now, let’s look instead at a smaller thread spun off of the overall budget story and the document’s main author, Rep. Donny Lambeth of Forsyth County.
The House draft of Lambeth’s budget called for $42.2 million from the state to renovate the Stevens Center, UNCSA’s downtown performance space, which began life in 1929 as Winston-Salem’s Carolina Theatre.
But it also did not allow for the expansion of Medicaid, a demand by the Democratic caucus in the legislature, as well as the governor himself.
So Lambeth put the Stevens Center money on the bargaining table, informing the Forsyth County House delegation that the funds would be revoked in the Senate version of the budget unless they all voted in favor of the House version, in defiance of their party’s strategy.
Don’t let his puerile name fool you: Donny plays hardball.
Reps. Evelyn Terry and Derwin Montgomery voted against the budget, and the money vaporized.
Now let’s veer back to the compromises offered by the GOP and Cooper’s office, both of which incorporate some form of Medicaid expansion, and one of which will likely pass.
One representative told the News & Observer on Tuesday that any form of Medicaid expansion would help between 300,000-500,000 North Carolinians who are currently without health insurance.
That rep was… Donny Lambeth, and the bill he was talking about is his own, a version of his Carolina Cares bill that GOP leadership refused to advance in 2017. And so now this bill, which includes some Medicaid expansion, becomes the carrot to entice Dems to vote for the bdget.
Meanwhile the Stevens Center renovation appears to have gotten lost in the shuffle, another casualty in the political pissing match that’s been passing as governance for almost 10 years now.