NCGA Week in Review

May 25, 2018

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Budget preparation took up the majority of business at the legislature thisweek. House and Senate budget writers anticipate that the budget will bepassed by both chambers late next week. Also, House and Senate leadersreleased preview of key policy initiatives in the budget, which includesinvestments in school safety, a broadband grant program, and raises forteachers and various state employees.

Budget Update

House and Senate leadership have been focused on the budget this week.According to budget writers in both chambers, the conference report to thebudget,SB 99, is expected to be released late Monday evening in preparation for a jointHouse and Senate appropriations meeting Tuesday morning. If all goes toplan, the House will pass the budget on its second and third readings onThursday and Friday, respectively. The Senate will vote on the conferencereport on Wednesday and Thursday after it is heard in the Appropriations,Finance, and Pensions/Retirement committees.

School Safety

On Thursday, members of the House Select Committee on School Safetyreleased their plan to include $35 million in the upcoming budget toaddress schools safety issues. Lead by committee co-chairs Reps. DavidLewis (R-Harnett) and John Torbett (R-Gaston), members announced acomprehensive funding initiative that includes $10 million in mental healthgrants, $12 million for additional school resource officers, and $3 millionfor additional mental health training for school employees. The plan alsoincludes $5 million for the “SPK UP” app, an anonymous tip app that wasused in a pilot program in various schools across the state. The app willallow students to anonymously report threatening, bullying, and othersuspicious behavior. Committee leadership intends to pursue $30 to $90million in Medicaid funds to support behavioral and mental health treatmentfor students as well.

Read Speaker Moore’s press releasehere.

Raises for State Employees

State employees are expected to receive across the board raises this year.State budget writers Sens. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Brent Jackson(R-Sampson), and Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) announced more than $200million in the upcoming budget will be allocated to state employee raises.The plan includes raising the minimum full time salary from $24,332 to$31,200, and a 2 percent raise to employees whose salary is at or above thecurrent minimum. Teachers and state law enforcement are two groups of stateemployees that legislative leaders identified for raises in this budget.State troopers will receive around an 8 percent raise, which increasestheir base pay from $39,000 to $44,000 annually. Budget leaders plan toannounce teacher raises next week.


Rural Broadband Grants

Legislative leaders announced a new rural broadband grant program that willbe included in this year’s state budget. The $10 million program wouldoffer grants to internet providers to offset 30 to 55 percent of thestartup costs to install broadband internet in rural areas. The initiative,which will be known as the Growing Rural Economies with Access toTechnology (GREAT) program, will also be eligible for the state’s portionof $600 million in federal funding for rural broadband. The new program isvery different from another legislative broadband initiative,HB 68: BRIGHT Futures Act, which passed the House last year. Instead of grant funding, the “BRIGHTFutures Act” would allow local governments to build and lease broadbandframework to private service providers. The bill is currently stalled inthe Senate Rules Committee, and is not expected to move forward.

A Look Ahead to Next Week

Monday, May 28, 2018

7:00 PM Session Convenes (House)

7:00 PM Session Convenes (Senate)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

10:00 AM Joint Appropriations Committee

Wednesday, May 29, 2018

10:00 AM Judiciary IV (House)

10:00 AM State and Local Government II (House)

11:00 AM Health (House)

2:00 PM Regulatory Reform (House)