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Gov. Perdue vetoes health plan overhaul
Wednesday, 13 April 2011 22:06

(RALEIGH) – Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue vetoed a half-billion-dollar overhaul of the health insurance program for state employees.

The measure would charge state employees monthly premiums for the first time ever. Plan members would also pay more for dependent coverage and other out-of-pocket expenses. Plus, the bill would end a wellness initiative and transfer oversight to the State Treasurer’s office.

Perdue cited concerns about the proposed monthly premium, which she said would result in a tax on teachers. “Now is simply not the time to cut teachers’ pay yet again,” said Perdue. “To do so would be a tremendous step backward for North Carolina, and we know clearly that teachers will flee the profession at a time when education is most critical to the future of this state.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said the GOP-backed measure was very similar to a plan put forward by Perdue. “With the health plan on the verge of financial collapse, she recklessly chose to cater to her political base and play politics with the health coverage of teachers and state employees,” said Berger in a statement. “Governor Perdue’s her-way-or-the-highway attitude is making it tough to get the state back on track.”

House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, said lawmakers will now work to quickly pass an alternative that doesn’t include monthly premiums for state employees in the basic plan. “It will cost us taxpayers about $14 million and it will erode some of our savings, but it still puts us in a position to save that $76 million if we can get it done next week,” said Tillis.

In addition, Perdue vetoed legislation that would allow state community colleges to opt out of a federal loan program.  She added that the bill would prevent more than 177,000 students from using the safest and least expensive method of borrowing money. Perdue also said the proposal would make North Carolina the worst state in the country when it comes to providing access to federal loans.

“I believe we should search for more pathways for students to follow towards higher education,” Perdue said in a statement. “And I understand the importance of financial aid in helping more students succeed in their goal of a college degree or career training.”

Tillis said it was unclear whether House lawmakers would attempt to override the college loan bill veto. He also emphasized that the vetoes won’t slow down progress on crafting the state budget. “The governor is, unfortunately, causing a distraction from us getting the budget done, but we’ll do both,” said Tillis. “And it will come at the expense of a midnight session if necessary next week.”

Perdue has now blocked four bills passed by lawmakers this year. The vetoes were announced several hours after the governor criticized GOP leaders for including a budget cuts proposal in legislation that would to extend jobless benefits.  Perdue called the move “extortion” and suggested that Republicans were playing politics.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 May 2011 10:02


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