Updated Thursday, May 21, 4:45 p.m.
N.C. House lawmakers have started debating a proposed budget plan that leaders revamped in an effort to win more votes from Republicans. The proposal reduces DMV fee hikes and cuts back on the money to help bring film and TV productions to North Carolina.
Under the proposal, DMV fees would go up 30 percent, instead of the original 50 percent. Money for film incentive grants would go from $60 to $40 annually. The plan also cuts back on the renewable energy tax credit and removes the $44 million tax credit that was dedicated to research and development.
House Majority leader Mike Hager (R-Rutherford) said he and others have been working long days trying to improve the spending plan.
“Today, as the bill stands, it is a great bill…it is a good, conservative budget and does the right thing for economy…and taxes,” he says.
Hager said he’s confident that they’ll have enough votes to pass the proposal.
David Lewis (R- Harnett), Chair of the Rules Committee, said the reduced fee hikes would generate about $580 million less than the original proposal.
Even though the proposal stands to increase the budget by six percent, Lewis said much of it is because of enrollment growth in school and in Medicaid, and raises and benefits for state employees.
House lawmakers are preparing to slash $250 million from the overall budget proposal.
The original budget unveiled Monday proposed $1.1 billion in additional state spending. In total, the proposal is a $22.2 billion draft that stands to increase the budget by six percent.
However, there is a divide within the Republican party over that amount of growth and some key provisions within the plan. After criticism from some members and outside conservative groups, House leaders are now working to significantly amend the plan and remove nearly a quarter of that growth.
“We’re confident we had the votes to pass it last night. It was important to the Speaker that several members of our caucus had legitimate issues that they wanted to be heard. And they were heard, and agreed to,” said Lewis.
Larry Hall (D-Durham), Democratic Minority Leader, said he has "never seen this" type of budget procedure before.
“I come back to the point I keep making about part of this process allowing the public to weigh-in with their elected representatives by knowing what is in the budget and responding, but we are just not getting that part of it done,” said Larry Hall (D-Durham), Democratic Minority Leader.