Pardon Our Dust
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Members of the North Carolina General Assembly honored those who served in World War II on the 75th anniversary of D-Day Thursday by holding session in the old capitol building. Many veterans were present to be recognized by the state’s lawmakers.
Also, Thursday, the House Redistricting committee met, followed shortly thereafter by the House Rules committee, to move forward with the map of the Wake County House districts drawn by the special master. Without much discussion, the map will now make its way to the House floor for a vote, moving quickly as the court-ordered June 30th deadline for the new map to be in place is fast approaching.
Earlier in the week, the House held a long awaited vote on whether to override or to sustain Democratic Governor Roy Cooper’s veto on SB 359: Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. Over a month ago, the Senate voted to override the Governor’s veto, putting the fate of the bill in the hands of the House. The House did not achieve the 3/5ths needed, with a final vote count of 67-53, and the Governor’s veto of the bill was sustained.
Both the House and the Senate will reconvene next week on Monday, June 10. The House will convene at 7:00PM, the Senate at 2:00PM.
The buzz around the legislative building died down since the excitement that filled the halls last week as the Senate introduced, and voted through, their version of the State budget proposal for the upcoming biennium. Now, Governor Roy Cooper, the House, and the Senate have all unveiled what they think North Carolina should be spending its money on through 2021. While both the House and the Senate are spending the same amount of money in total, they are both spending it in very different ways. Both of their budgets differ greatly from how the Governor would like to see the money spent. The following are some of the key provisions that vary between the three budget proposals, giving lawmakers, and the Governor, much to consider over the next few weeks.
Governor’s Budget – Proposal totals $25.2 billion in spending – $25.2 billion (5.4% increase over FY 2018-19 budget) and in second year $25.96 billion (2.9% increase)
House Budget – $23.9 Billion in FY 2019-20 (increase of 3% from 2018-19 budget) & $24.9 Billion in FY 2020-21 (4% increase from FY 2018-19)
Senate Budget – $23.9 Billion in FY 2019-20 (increase of 3% from 2018-19 budget) & $24.9 Billion in FY 2020-21 (4% increase from FY 2018-19) *same total as House budget
- The Governor appropriated funds to increase teacher salaries at an average of 4.6% in the first year of the biennium and an additional 4.5% in the second year for a total average of a 9.1% increase. The Governor also proposed allocating $6.8 million to restore teacher masters pay. Additionally, $10 million in the first year, $20 million in the second, would go towards assistant principal and principal salary increases with a schedule based on school size and years of experience.
- The House proposed increases to the average teacher salary at a rate of 4.8%, a 6.3% average raise for assistant principals, and a 10% raise for principals.
- The Senate included an increase in pay for school principals but did not increase the average teacher salary at any specific rate. Rather, the Senate proposed an increase in pay for all state employees by 3.5% across the board in both years of the biennium, which would apply to public school teachers.
- The Governor’s proposal included $40 million for school districts to hire more psychologists, nurses, counselors, and so on.
- The House budget included $30 million to fund five school safety grants. One of the grants must be used towards hiring more school psychologists.
- The Senate included funds to allow for at least one school psychologist per LEA. The provision gives LEAs the ability to contract out these services, giving schools the flexibility to hire social workers and counselors too.
- The Senate budget included a provision that would require high school students to take an Economic & Personal Finance course as a graduation requirement. The course would focus on teaching students how to choose and manage a credit card, how to plan and pay for a postsecondary education, and other financial literacy topics.
- The House budget included a $1 million appropriation in FY 2019-20 to fund a virtual early learning pilot program. The budget also includes a provision to maintain a 15-point grading scale for measuring school performance and changes the weight of the school achievement and school growth components to 51% and 49%, respectively.
Health and Human Services
- The Governor’s proposal includes provisions that would expand Medicaid coverage to an estimated 500,000 North Carolinians. The provisions would draw the money down from federal government issuance and would not include appropriated funds from budget.
- The House proposed a $232.9 million appropriation in FY 2019-20 for Medicaid Transformation projects and $198.4 million in FY 2020-21.
- The Senate funds Medicaid Transformation projects, specifically funding any run-out costs, at $1.49 million in the first fiscal year and $10.9 million in the second.
- The House would increase Medicaid recipient copayments to $4 from the current $2 or $3.
- The Senate would increase Medicaid copays to $4 as well, directing the additional money received to go towards increasing reimbursements to providers.
- The Governor’s budget increases funding to the Highway Trust Fund’s Strategic Investment Program by $20.4 million in FY 2019-20 and $108.5 million in FY 2020-21.
- The House proposed $1.6 billion in the first year of the biennium and $1.7 billion in the second year for the Highway Trust Fund.
- The Governor would provide over $305 million in both years to go towards highway maintenance projects.
- The House’s budget includes $58 million to be used for Rail Infrastructure efforts and removes restrictions to specific light rail projects.
- The Senate’s proposal would create the Transportation Emergency Reserve in order to provide relief and assistance to areas throughout the state impacted by emergency situations like Hurricanes. Legislative action would be needed in order to access the funds.
- The Senate budget included a provision that would establish additional registration and annual fees for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. The registration fee for electric vehicles would be increased to $230, while plug-in hybrid vehicles would be increased to $115.
- This provision was originally included in the House’s version of the budget, but after receiving a great deal of pushback, was removed in the Finance committee.
Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources
- The Governor included $6.8 million for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
- The House budget included $3.5 million for the State match of the federal Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
- The Senate did not provide funds towards Clean Water programs but did include provisions to extend the sunset of the Dry Cleaning and Solvency Tax for 10 years and distribute the current cash balance of $67 million from the Film Grand Fund throughout different areas of the budget to fund other items in the proposal.
Justice and Public Safety
- The Governor would provide $27 million in FY 2019-20 and $38 million in FY 2020-21 for Raise the Age implementation.
- The House would provide a total of $29 million in FY 2019-20 and $44 million in FY 2020-21 for Raise the Age implementation.
- The Governor’s proposal would provide $2.5 million to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund to help support small business loans and financial training to start-ups and existing businesses.
- The House would also provide $2.5 million annually to the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.
- The Governor’s proposal invests $30 million to increase access and improve broadband services to underserved households, businesses, and community anchor institutions.
- The House would provide $15 million to be used for the GREAT grant program to bring broadband providers to rural areas of the state.
- Both the House and the Senate’s budget proposals included provisions to increase the standard deduction and decrease the state’s franchise tax rate.
- Both House and Senate proposals include provisions to provide tax and regulatory relief to out-of-state business conducting disaster related work in NC after a natural disaster such as Hurricane Florence.
Now that the House and the Senate have both passed their respective budget proposals, lawmakers will now meet in conference committee to discuss changes and compromises to the budget before sending a final version off to the Governor for his approval. Legislative leaders appointed the members who will serve on the committee Thursday. The eight Appropriations chairs from the House, along with the three from the Senate, will serve as the conference committee’s chairs. 20 members of the Senate and 41 members of the House will make up the committee. Out of the 61 members, only two Democrats were appointed. Rep. Charles Graham (D-Robeson) and Rep. Elmer Floyd (D-Cumberland) will serve as the lone Democrats in committee discussions. No Senate Democrats were appointed.
Upcoming Legislative Meetings
Monday, June 10
1:00PM: Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee
2:00PM Senate: Session Convenes
3:00PM Senate: Select Committee on Prison Safety
7:00PM House: Session Convenes
Tuesday, June 11
11:00AM House: Education – Community Colleges
11:30AM House: Education – Universities
2:00PM Senate: State and Local Government
3:00PM House: Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs
3:00PM House: Banking
Wednesday, June 12
10:00AM Senate: Health Care
Friday, June 14
10:00AM: North Carolina Child Well-Being Transformation Council