Budget

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.

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