Soon after news broke that Durham state senator Floyd McKissick was among a handful of Democrats who voted late last month in favor of a Republican-crafted budget that Governor Cooper announced he would veto, the phone calls started.

Had he been bought off by the promise of a legislative confirmation to a lucrative position on the state’s Utilities Commission, which carries an annual salary of more than $139,000? After all, that’s a far cry from the $14,000 (plus $104 daily per diem) he makes in the General Assembly. 

“I hate hearing people call and saying that,” says Graison McKissick, the six-term-plus senator’s son and legislative assistant. “He was appointed by Governor Cooper months and months and months ago. When people call this office and say that’s the case, I mean, it’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.”

Floyd McKissick was first elected to the Senate in 2007. He’s the son of the late civil rights lion Floyd B. McKissick, the first African American student to attend the UNC-Chapel Hill Law School, who went on to become the director of the Congress of Racial Equality and later started, with help from the Nixon administration, Soul City, a community that sat on acres of farmland in Warren County with the goal of black empowerment.

On May 1, Cooper named McKissick one of three nominees for a seat on the N.C. Utilities Commission, a seven-member board that regulates the state’s public utilities, including electric power, natural gas, and telecommunications, along with some transportation, water and wastewater services.

The House approved the joint resolution confirming McKissick’s appointment on Monday night by a vote of 114–3. It now moves to the Senate for final approval. 

The state senator denies that he sold his soul for a six-figure salary. 

McKissick says his actual bargaining chip was the expected passage of Senate Bill 683, which would, among other things, restore Saturday voting across the state. That’s “absolutely imperative” and important,” he says. 

The bill passed Monday night on a 49–0 vote.

SB 683 requires North Carolina counties to open early voting locations from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the election, with the option of keeping the voting places open until 5:00 p.m.

McKissick says the importance of restoring Saturday voting has been amplified by an amendment passed in 2018 election requiring voters to present identification at voting precincts before they are allowed to cast their ballots. McKissick says up to three hundred thousand residents may not be able to vote in the 2020 election as a consequence of the new amendment.

“We’ve got to be real and understand the significance of Saturday voting,” McKissick told the INDY hours before the vote on the bill, which also sought to combat absentee ballot fraud in response to the fracas that beset the Ninth Congressional District.

McKissick was one of seven Democrats who voted for the GOP budget and, in the process, were rewarded with “tens of millions of dollars in appropriations” for their respective districts, The News & Observer reported.

Durham County received more than $9 million, with about $2 million earmarked for pre-kindergarten education, another $1.5 million for summer youth jobs, and funding for the Lincoln Community Health Center and N.C. Central.

“It’s really a good thing,” McKissick says. “You can get caught up in the optics, and that gets distorted.”

Besides, McKissick says, if push comes to shove, he’ll have Cooper’s back on the budget.

“I’m still going to vote for the governor’s veto,” he says.

It might not come to that.

On Monday night, House leaders delayed a vote to override Cooper’s veto, likely because they lacked the votes. Then on Tuesday, Cooper offered a compromise on teacher raises, school vouchers, and tax cuts, while House Speaker Tim Moore countered by moving the GOP’s version of Medicaid expansion out of committee

Contact staff writer Thomasi McDonald at 

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One reply on “Why Did Floyd McKissick Vote for the Republicans’ Budget?”

  1. The Indy Week seems to have a bias against Senator Floyd McKissick. This journalist picks and chose the words he wanted to fit the article he wanted to write. Sad sad that you need to distort what people say to get some attention and stay in business.

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