A Budget Comparison; Where The Governor And Senate Differ

May 12, 2017

State Senate chamber
Credit Dave DeWitt / WUNC

This week marks the unofficial beginning of budget negotiations.

The final state budget of something north of $23 billion will look different than any of the budgets currently proposed, but taking a look at what lawmakers included in their proposals gives a good idea of what will be used as a bargaining chip, what will become a poison pill, and what will grab headlines in the weeks to come.

The budgets of Gov. Roy Cooper and that of Senate Republicans in some ways point in the same direction, but differ in terms of scale. The governor proposes more government spending on programs that benefit low-income residents, while the Senate proposes higher tax cuts to get money flowing in the economy. Still, the Senate proposes to increase spending over the current year budget, including heavy spending in education.

They differ in some priorities that fall along ideological lines. The Senate plans looks to cut taxes, while the governor's budget would increase spending.

Here’s a look at how the budgets compare. If you see any other contrasts, email jdebruyn@wunc.org to let him know so he can add to this list!

Total General Fund Budget



  • Governor: $23.85 billion
  • Senate: $23.45 billion
  • House:

North Carolina state government gets most of its revenue from individual taxpayers
Credit Gov. Roy Cooper's office

Income Taxes

  • Governor: No tax reduction
  • Senate: Lowers both the corporate income and personal income taxes. Personal income tax rate would decrease to 5.35 percent from 5.5 percent and the standard deduction for married filing jointly would increase to $20,000 from $17,500.
  • House:

State spending has increased through the years
Credit Gov. Roy Cooper's office

Raises For State Employees

  • Governor: 2 percent raise or $800, whichever is greater. Also includes cost-of-living raise for retired state employees
  • Senate: 1.5 percent raise, or $750, whichever is greater
  • House:


  • Governor: Increases education funding by $755 million in the coming year and by $1.13 billion in the next
  • Senate: Increases education funding by $388 million in the coming year and by $779 million in the next
  • House:

Education System Pay Raises

  • Governor: Provides the greater of 2 percent of $800 for teachers; also offers a $150 annual stipend to offset school supplies teachers pay for out of pocket. For principals and assistant principals, provides $20 million for pay raises
  • Senate: Provides the greater of 1.5 percent or $750 for teachers. For principals and assistant principals, provides $28 million in the coming year and $33.7 million in the following year for pay raises
  • House:

Disaster Relief

  • Governor: Transfers $100 million to the Disaster Relief Fund
  • Senate: Transfers $150 million to the Disaster Relief Fund
  • House:


  • Governor: Recommends expanding Medicaid to cover an additional 624,000 low-income residents
  • Senate: No expansion
  • House:

Juvenile Justice

North Carolina is the only state that automatically charges 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system. Members in the House want to see those teens tried as minors instead. The Senate has not taken a strong position, but has not included necessary funding to make the switch. This could end up as a bargaining chip because Senators know it holds significant importance to members of the House. The governor’s budget provides initial funding to raise the age.

Certificate of Need

This is a little-known health care law, but one of significant importance in health care. In North Carolina, as in several other states, hospitals must seek regulatory approval to add nearly any kind of health care service. Approval is required across the gamut, including new dialysis stations, more registered hospital beds, or new operating rooms. The Senate budget would do away with this law completely. Hospitals strongly support Certificate of Need laws, while some independent physicians oppose the laws.