Old North State Report - May 20, 2016
The North Carolina House of Representatives concluded this week with a strong bi-partisan vote for its version of the state budget. After lengthy committee meetings on Tuesday, the House approved the 2016 Appropriations Act on 103-12 votes Wednesday and Thursday.
Republicans touted it as a fiscally responsible proposal which funds their priorities including raises for public school teachers and state employees while providing additional tax relief and boosting the state’s rainy day savings account.
Amendments to stop the Interstate 77 tolling project and to repeal House Bill 2 were ruled out of order by Speaker Tim Moore as “not germane to the measure under consideration.” For the most part, Democratic criticism of the budget was muted beyond calls for higher raises.
The House has achieved large bi-partisan majorities for own budget proposals before only to see the relative harmony dissipate once negotiations with the Senate were finished. There is guarded optimism that differences with the Senate this election year may be fewer than in the recent past.
Two potential sticking points include the specifics surrounding the raises for teachers and state employees (e.g. “pay for performance” and for critical needs versus across the board) as well as how quickly to increase the standard deduction for the state’s zero income tax bracket.
Senate budget writers have been working to prepare their budget proposals and are expected to roll them out over the next two weeks with the goal of passing their version the week of Memorial Day.
The accelerated pace suggests that the legislature may be able to adjourn by July 4th unless obstacles or new issues arise. This timetable also makes political sense given the controversy over House Bill 2 and the need for the legislature to leave town with accomplishments in hand.
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