HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — North Carolina state Rep. Cecil Brockman, a Democrat representing Guilford County, fired back after being criticized for siding with majority Republicans in approving the state budget.

The North Carolina General Assembly sent the budget to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk on Friday after the House passed it 70-40 and the Senate followed, 26-17. The budget includes Medicaid expansion, tax cuts, investment in rural infrastructure and state employee raises. It covers the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which began on July 1.

Cooper said it was a “bad budget” but would allow it to become law without his signature so that the state could begin expanding Medicaid.

Brockman was one of five House Democrats, alongside Reps. Carla Cunningham (D-Mecklenburg), Garland Pierce (D-Hoke), Shelly Willingham (D-Bertie) and Michael Wray (D-Halifax), to join the 65 Republicans present in voting in favor. The remaining 40 Democrats voted against it. 10 representatives, including three Democrats and seven Republicans, were absent.

The North Carolina Senate approved the budget strictly along party lines with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

In a joint statement, the presidents of Young Democrats of North Carolina, College Democrats of North Carolina and the North Carolina Association of Teen Democrats told the five Democrats who voted for the budget to “start acting like Democrats and stop helping NC Republicans pass some of the most brazenly anti-Black legislation we’ve seen in years in a direct affront to the communities you represent.”

The full joint statement is included below.

We are outraged to hear that several Democrats in the NC General Assembly joined with Republicans today in a massive assault on reproductive rights, Black representation in our courts, public education, and access to health care.

This weekend, NC Republicans tried to repeal Medicaid Expansion unless they could build casinos for their billionaire donors, only stopping when they realized that not even their own caucus wanted it. Now they’re going through with their plan to bully Black judges off the bench, cut public school funding, give handouts to their wealthy donors, and so much more.

As the first Black men to lead all three of the NC Democratic Party’s youth organizations at the same time, we are particularly sad to see several of our Black elected officials engage in the back-slapping game of closed-door politics that’s been ignoring communities of color across NC for decades.

We’re proud of Governor Cooper and our Democratic legislators who stood together in protecting Medicaid, rejecting the NCGOP’s failed attempt at extortion with the casino deal, and voting against this disastrous budget.

Our message to Representatives Cecil Brockman, Carla Cunningham, Garland Pierce, Shelly Willingham, and Michael Wray: Start acting like Democrats and stop helping NC Republicans pass some of the most brazenly anti-Black legislation we’ve seen in years in a direct affront to the communities you represent.

Let this be your notice — March 5th, 2024 comes sooner than you think.

YDNC President Dorian Palmer, CDNC President Kema Leonard and NCATD Co-President Daniel Patterson

In his response, Brockman said he “felt obligated to respond” because the “attack is so outrageous and ridiculous.” He says he sought common ground with Republicans and that a majority of the $29 million appropriations “go directly towards helping the folks in my community.”

“My message to you would be grow up,” Brockman said.

Brockman’s full statement is included below.

“First of all, it is my job as a state legislator and member of the Conference Committee on the budget to work on the state budget. So the implication that simply doing my job is under attack is so outrageous and ridiculous I felt obligated to respond. I believe the majority of North Carolinians want politicians to stop bickering and work together to do what’s best for everybody. You might not like it, but I’m willing to work with majority and try to find common ground.

“I supported the budget because I fought hard for appropriations I thought would have a profound impact on my community. I represent a majority poor black district that I was born and raised in. The majority of the more than 29 million dollar appropriations that were in this budget go directly towards helping the folks in my community. More than 25 nonprofits that directly help the folks in my community get the resources they need.

“My message to you would be grow up. When you’re an adult you have to work with people you may have disagreements with and even may not even like. But you get up every day and you do your job. I will continue to do my job in looking out for the best interest of my constituents. I trust when election time rolls around, my constituents will do what they have done for the past 5 election cycles and vote in their best interest.”

North Carolina state Rep. Cecil Brockman (D-Guilford)

This isn’t the first time Brockman has faced criticism from members of his party. Brockman was one of the three Democrats in the North Carolina House to be absent when a vote on overriding a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper was called in March, alongside Wray and then-Democrat Rep. Tricia Cotham, of Mecklenburg.

Cotham said she was so perturbed by criticism of her absence, which she explained was for treatment for “long COVID,” that she decided to exit the Democratic Party altogether, despite having won her District 112 race last fall by more than 18 percentage points while running as a Democrat.

Brockman had said he was at a medical clinic that morning of the veto vote and couldn’t make it to the legislative building and confirmed that he does not intend to change parties.

“I have been a lifelong Democrat, and I want to see Democrats win,” Brockman said in a statement released to The News & Observer. “I think Donald Trump has made it acceptable for us to be vile and nasty. We used to be a party that said when they go low, we go high. Now, when they go low, we go even lower.

“I think we are losing people when they read how we treat members of our own party. We need to get moderates to win the state, not just the people who agree with us. I want Democrats to win, and I plan on helping them do so.”