By Ned Barnett
RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue on Saturday vetoed legislation that would have made it harder for an education employees association to collect dues, its primary source of funding.
The legislation took specific aim at the North Carolina Association of Educators, a persistent critic of the Republican-led general assembly's cuts in education funding.
The bill barred the payroll deduction of dues for NCAE members. There was no effort to take similar action against the State Employees Association of North Carolina, a group that has remained largely neutral this session.
Perdue, a Democrat, rejected the measure, saying, "This bill is nothing but a petty and vindictive attempt to seek retribution against a group that opposed the Republican budget."
The NCAE, with some 70,000 members representing more than a third of the state's school employees, has been supportive of Perdue, expected to seek re-election in 2012. But it has criticized the general assembly for failing to extend a temporary 1-cent sales tax that could have prevented teacher layoffs now expected due to cuts in state education funding.
Perdue vetoed the budget, citing the cuts in education funding, but the general assembly overrode her veto.
Perdue acted as the legislature wrapped up its regular session Saturday. The lawmakers will return in mid-July to take up redistricting and possible veto overrides.
State Representative George G. Cleveland, a Republican, said of the governor's veto, "That was expected. She's a union person. She's going to support the union."
The House passed the bill 62-52 on June 9, short of the three fifths majority needed to override in the 120-member house.
Tama Bouncer, head of the NCAE's Wake County chapter, which includes Raleigh, welcomed the governor's veto. She said the bill "seemed to be a situation where we were the only ones targeted which was unfair."
Bouncer's chapter includes 4,400 members and more than 90 percent pay their dues through a payroll deduction. Others pay by check or credit card. Without a payroll education, she said the chapter's funds would fall sharply. "It's a convenience," she said.
(Edited by Jerry Norton)