North Carolina General Assembly Week in Review

June 21, 2024

Members of the North Carolina General Assembly were busy in Raleigh this week as a variety of bills, ranging from education and healthcare policy changes to constitutional amendments, made their way through House and Senate committees. Even as a handful of bills moved through both chambers and onto the floor for final votes throughout the week, House and Senate leadership remained unable to reach an agreement on a new state spending plan for the 2024-2025 fiscal year. The main sticking point continues to be just how much money lawmakers are willing to spend on top of what was funded in last year’s biennial budget. Without an agreement, both chambers decided to put together their own, individual budget proposals for the other to consider. As floor votes and committee work wrapped up for the week Thursday afternoon, leaders of the two chambers indicated that neither would be willing to take up the other’s budget proposal next week.

With budget negotiations at an impasse for now, and with many legislators planning to be away from Raleigh over the course of the next several weeks, legislative leadership has indicated that next week will likely be the last week of work before lawmakers head home for the month of July, at least.

House Budget

With budget negotiations between the two chambers stalled, House lawmakers moved forward with their own budget proposal this week, with final votes held just hours after Senate lawmakers unveiled their own proposal. The House’s budget, HB 263: 2024 Appropriations Act, would provide an additional one percent pay increase for most state employees and state-funded local employees, in addition to the pay raises included in the 2023-2024 budget; would allocate additional nonrecurring funds and recurring reserve funds to eliminate the waitlist and fully fund the Opportunity Scholarship Program, bringing the total amount allocated for awards in FY 2024-25 to $541.5 million; and would allocate the funds needed for the Medicaid rebase to account for changes in Medicaid program costs. In addition to a variety of other appropriations, HB 263 would also provide:

  • $21 million recurring to support noninstructional school support personnel, bringing the total for FY 2024-25 to $529 million
  • $24.6 million recurring to the Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities Program due to an increase in eligible applicants to bring the total appropriation to $74.5 million
  • $1.5 million to the North Carolina Collaboratory to establish and operate the Office of Learning Research which is charged with evaluating programs and activities related to elementary and secondary education
  • Transfer the $35 million nonrecurring for the school safety grant program for equipment, training, and students in crisis and the $33 million recurring for School Resource Officers in elementary and middle schools from the Center for Safer Schools to the State Bureau of Investigation
  • $1 million nonrecurring to expand the Tri-Share child care pilot program by an additional three sites and funds an evaluation of the pilot, bringing the revised net appropriation for FY 2024-25 to $1.9 million
  • $135 million nonrecurring from a combination of funds from the State Fiscal Recovery Fund and the federal Child Care and Development Fund block grant to extend the compensation grants portion of the child care stabilization grants for child care providers
  • $12 million in additional recurring funds to the Private Assigned Counsel Fund to address projected shortfalls
  • $5 million in additional nonrecurring funds for the design, engineering, and implementation of building renovations at Poe Hall at North Carolina State University, bringing the total amount authorized for the project to $180 million
  • $8 million nonrecurring for start-up funds to establish the School of Applied Science and Technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • $17.5 million nonrecurring for a S.T.E.M. building at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • $40 million nonrecurring for the Powell Bill Program which allocates financial assistance for street maintenance to qualifying municipalities, bringing the total appropriation for the program in FY 2024-25 to $225,875,000

House lawmakers passed their budget proposal in a final 68-36 vote Thursday after many attempted amendments and hours of floor debate. All present Republican lawmakers voted in favor of the budget, while all but three present Democratic lawmakers voted against the bill on third reading.

HB 263 now heads over to the Senate where leadership has indicated the House’s spending plan will not move forward. Senate lawmakers do not want to spend as much money in the short session budget adjustment bill as House lawmakers do, and, instead, released their own pared-down budget proposal.

Senate Budget

Senate lawmakers unveiled their response to the House’s budget proposal Thursday morning. The Senate’s scaled-back approach would only fund what lawmakers consider the most urgent needs of North Carolinians and would limit the amount of additional funds spent on top of the state’s current biennial budget adopted last year. HB 317: Adjustments to the 2023 Appropriations Act was heard in the Senate Committee on Appropriations/Base Budget Thursday morning for discussion purposes only. No amendments were considered during the meeting, as Senate lawmakers will have the opportunity to offer any proposed changes and fully debate the bill on the floor when the chamber reconvenes Monday evening.

The Senate’s budget adjustment proposal would:

  • Authorize roughly $131 million for teacher and public-school employee raises, as well as authorize salary increases for noncertified school support personnel, funding the average three-percent raise included in last year’s budget
  • Provide $248 million to eliminate the current waitlist and an additional $215.46 million in recurring funds to the Opportunity Scholarship Program to fully fund the program moving forward
  • Allow the State Education Assistance Authority to allocate unused administrative costs set aside for opportunity scholarships for additional costs associated with administering the Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities Program
  • Provide an additional $24.7 million in recurring funds to the North Carolina Personal Education Student Accounts for Children with Disabilities Program
  • Allocate $259 million in recurring funds and $100 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid rebase to account for changes in Medicaid program costs
  • Appropriate $136.5 million for the continuation of the compensation grants portion of the Child Care Stabilization Grants from federal Child Care and Development Block Grant funds and receipts from the Child Care Reserve to provide four quarters of reduced child care grants
  • Allocate $1 million for the Guardian ad Litem program to increase the hourly rate paid to contract attorneys

Senate leadership says its proposal fulfills previous commitments from last year’s budget and addresses items that must be done before the legislature adjourns for the year. Having already passed their own budget proposal, House leadership indicated that they are unlikely to consider the Senate’s proposal before taking time off for the month of July, with hopes of restarting negations between the two chambers when the legislature resumes work later this summer.

Upcoming Legislative Meetings

Monday, June 24

11:00 AM House: Session Convenes
2:00 PM Senate: Session Convenes

Tuesday, June 25

11:00 AM Senate: Judiciary
2:00 PM Senate: Finance

Wednesday, June 26

10:00 AM House: Judiciary 2