Budget

NC General Assembly, Senator Rucho
NC General Assembly

The co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee has resigned from that group to protest changes to his legislative body's tax reform plan.

Senator Bob Rucho submitted his resignation letter to Senate President Phil Berger earlier this week. Rucho was the main architect of a Senate tax reform proposal that would have expanded the sales tax while lowering personal and corporate income tax rates.

But Berger put forth an alternate plan that would repeal corporate taxes without expanding the sales tax base as extensively. Rucho says he was disappointed by the move.

NC House
Jessica Jones

State lawmakers in the House have begun to debate their budget proposal.  Republican representative Nelson Dollar told his fellow lawmakers the budget plan is a good one.

"We are pleased to have a new governor here in Raleigh. We think that the spirit of reform has come to our state capitol. We believe our budget has caught the winds of reform and is moving us forward," said Dollar.

Durham City Hall
City of Durham

County commissioners and city council members across the state turn their attention to their local budgets this week. 

Many local governments are avoiding increases on property taxes as they craft their budgets for the next fiscal year.  But they're also expecting less direct funding from the state and increasing some fees for services like solid waste or animal control. 

The Elizabeth II historical ship is a main attraction at Roanoke Island Festival Park.
NC Department of Cultural Resources

The history-themed Roanoke Island Festival Park on the Outer Banks may have an uncertain future. Two years ago, lawmakers passed a bill that stipulated the park be self-supporting by 2015. The bill called for systematic reductions in state funding to the site over the next 4 years. That gradual implementation was overlooked in the budget proposal Governor Pat McCrory submitted this year - and instead slashed all funding. So far this session, the general assembly shows no signs of reinstating it.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Lawmakers in the State Senate have presented a $20.6 billion budget proposal. It would spend slightly less than Governor McCrory’s plan and offers no raises for state employees.  The plan would also increase state Medicaid spending by about $300 million and make big changes to the State Bureau of Investigation.
 
Republican budget writer Senator Pete Brunstetter told reporters earlier today that he knows this is a tough budget plan. He says its purpose is to make sure the state lives within its means.

McCrory gives weekly GOP address
www.governor.state.nc.us

Gov. Pat McCrory gave a national audience a glimpse into reforms he wants to implement in North Carolina.  He delivered this past weekend's GOP response to President Obama's weekly address. 

McCrory criticized what he called Washington's "weak leadership" and urged national lawmakers to give more flexibility and accountability to states.  He says he needs that kind of freedom to implement a different approach to Medicaid reform.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory introduced his first budget proposal this week and within the measure calls on state legislators to restore seven million of dollars in funding for drug courts. The funding for drug courts was cut two years ago and resources for treatment were slashed last year. Drug courts are designed to help repeat offenders of drug laws get treatment instead of going to jail.

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC Governor's Office

This week's budget proposal from Gov. Pat McCrory includes tweaks to funding for economic development programs. 

The governor unveiled his spending plan Wednesday.  It would add money to a new economic branding strategy as well as a program that supports main streets in small communities.  But it cuts funds for two non-profits and a foundation that provide grants meant to support job growth.

Gov. Pat McCrory
Governor's Office

As he unveiled his proposed $20.6 billion dollar budget yesterday, the banner behind Governor Pat McCrory trumpeted the three initiatives he wanted to emphasize. It read: “Economy. Education. Efficiency.” In reality, though, education should have been number one, because it’s by far the largest expenditure and the area where the biggest fights are likely.

Governor McCrory's recommended budget
NC Office of State Budget and Management

Governor Pat McCrory released his budget proposal earlier today. It’s a $20.6 billion plan that emphasizes spending on education and economic development and sets aside money for emergencies. It doesn’t seek to create any new high-priced programs.

Earlier today, Governor McCrory told reporters in a news conference at the historic old State Capitol that North Carolina needs to fix its broken government.

The White House

White House officials are warning each state that spending cuts due to take effect this Friday will have a significant impact.  Military personnel in North Carolina are bracing for the worst.  Army leaders face more than $136 million in base operations cuts.  Jason Furman is a deputy director of the President's National Economic Council.  He says it's uncertain how those cuts will play out.


"It is pretty much a department-by-department thing," Furman says.

Governor Bev Perdue has vetoed the budget sent to her by the Republican-led General Assembly. This marks the second year in a row the governor has used her veto stamp on a legislative spending plan. Perdue said this morning in a news conference that she was willing to compromise but was rebuffed by the GOP leadership.

Lawmakers are preparing to wrap up their legislative session as they wait to see what Governor Bev Perdue will do with the budget they passed last week.

State lawmakers failed to include matching money in the budget they passed yesterday for federal funds to help administer the 2012 elections. The state must provide 660 thousand dollars in order to receive four million dollars in matching funds. It's authorized by the Help America Vote act, passed by Congress in 2002. Lawmakers included money in previous House and Senate budget versions, but not the consensus budget. Brent Laurenz heads the North Carolina Center for Voter Education, a non-profit, non-partisan organization in Raleigh.

Lawmakers in the state Senate have tentatively passed a 20.1 billion dollar spending plan as part of this year’s budget adjustment. The Republican-penned plan spends about 127 million dollars less than the House plan approved last month.

Jessica Jones: Republican Richard Stevens is the co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. As he addressed his fellow senators earlier today, Stevens said the good news about these last few days of the fiscal year is that almost every department has stayed within its budget.

State Senate leaders have unveiled their budget proposal. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says the $20.1 billion-dollar plan contains adjustments that allow more money to be replaced in medicaid. But the Senate version spends nearly $130 million dollars less than the House budget on education. One place the Senate budget does spend money is on the Republican's Excellence in Public Schools Act that Berger sponsored.

House lawmakers have recommended budget changes that would ease funding reductions for public schools and give state employees a small bonus. The House Appropriations committee approved the more than 20 billion dollar proposed budget adjustment earlier today. Republican representative Harold Brubaker chairs the House appropriations committee.

State lawmakers have begun to roll out their preliminary recommendations for this year's budget.

Lawmakers are moving quickly as they begin their short legislative session. Their primary task is to make adjustments to the state's two-year budget. The governor has already sent lawmakers a 20.9 billion dollar budget proposal. Republicans are expected to come out with their version soon. The first day of the session began with great fanfare.

There is another sign economic recovery is moving slower in North Carolina than in a lot of other states.   The rate of per capita income growth is among the smallest in the country.

Leoneda Inge:  The US Bureau of Economic Analysis says per capita income growth in North Carolina was 3.3-percent between 2010 and 2011.   The only states with a smaller income growth rate are Maine and Alaska.  Alexandra Sirota is Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center.  She says the state fared better three to four years ago.

Three North Carolina courthouses could be closed as a cost cutting measure.

School districts are looking at every option to find funding for next year. This summer, a federal stimulus funding package ends, and could lead to teacher layoffs.

Dave DeWitt: Not every school district has what Wake County has a rainy day fund. Now, school board members are considering using a good chunk of the $35 million or so that’s in it to save 500 teacher jobs.

Under a new proposal from Superintendent Tony Tata, The Wake County Schools budget will shrink by $24 million next year.

Dave DeWitt: Even with the cuts, Tata says there will be no teacher layoffs. In fact, he expects to be able to give teachers a one percent raise - their first in four years.

Better incentives for economic development are one way to tackle North Carolina's high unemployment rate. That's according to the non-profit North Carolina Budget & Tax Center. Report author Allan Freyer says the state should change how it attracts companies.

Thousands of students are returning to area universities. They will be greeted by a variety of changes brought on by budget cuts.

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