Republican senators walked out of budget negotiations this morning at the General Assembly this morning. The move followed House Republican Senior Chairman Nelson Dollar's call for educators to speak to the joint body.
"One of the reasons why we felt it was important to bring folks forward is that if these are going to be public meetings, let's have some public input," Dollar said.
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown said Representative Dollar overstepped when he called for outside testimony.
"The only thing I will say is this isn't your committee meeting. It is a joint committee meeting. And before you decide what the rules are going to be, you need to get an 'ok' from the Senate," he said. "You decided that you were going to be the rule maker of this committee. And the Senate is not going to allow that to happen."
Senator Jerry Tillman agreed with Brown, noting that legislators had already received public input. "We've called people in on this budget process and we have heard from them on both sides," he said. "I think it is time now to make a decision."
The Senators returned to the meeting where debate over the budget, particularly education spending and funding for Medicaid, continued. The House proposal was met with skepticism by some members of the Senate.
"This plan moves us nowhere. We've been talking about the lottery dollars. No change. We've been talking about teachers assistants and what we do with teachers' salaries," Senator Tillman said. "And to me, this is barely worth the ink it took to write this thing."
Host Frank Stasio talks with News and Observer Lynn Bonner about the latest developments including the recent N&O series on Medicaid.