Senate Budget

Photo: Senate Leader Phil Berger  and Sen. Harry Brown
Jorge Valencia

Lawmakers in Raleigh are one step closer to finalizing a spending plan for North Carolina.

State senators on Thursday gave tentative approval to their version of the budget, with 33 Republicans voting in favor and 15 Democrats against. The plan would increase average teacher pay and would give pay raises for some state employees.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The state Senate is debating its biannual spending plan this week.

Top Republicans are highlighting a modest increase in overall state spending. They’re also highlighting an average teacher pay raise of 13.5 percent, although details are still scarce on how the plan will provide for the increases.

North Carolina State Legislature
Dave Crosby / Flickr

 After weeks of almost no budget talks, state lawmakers finally agreed to break their deadlock.  At a public conference committee meeting on Wednesday, they openly negotiated their adjustments to the two-year budget plan and seemingly resolved differences over Medicaid funding.

Governor Pat McCrory gathered with school leaders and legislators on Wednesday to show their support for a scaled-down spending plan that focuses on teacher pay.
Reema Khrais

State House Republicans are teaming up with Governor Pat McCrory to help speed up slow budget talks. Legislators are supposed to make adjustments to the two-year state budget by July 1, but progress has been sluggish.

Representatives say they want to at least pass a scaled-down spending plan that focuses on teacher pay. It would give teachers an average five-percent raise without relying on funds from the lottery. 

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Senate and House leaders are expected to begin meeting in conference committees this week to make adjustments to the two-year budget plan. 

They have until June 30th to resolve differences and send their spending plan to Governor Pat McCrory.

Medicaid funding and teacher pay raises are expected to be the key sticking points in negotiations. But many Republicans, like Representative Craig Horn (R-Union), say they’re optimistic about the process.

Photo: The North Carolina Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh
Jorge Valencia

North Carolina’s General Assembly leadership is expected to begin negotiations this week to reconcile two proposals for the state’s $21.1 billion budget, a legislation that touches many aspects of government, but has centered on how to give pay raises to public school teachers.

NC House
house.gov

State House Republicans released a proposed budget on Tuesday that is significantly different than the Senate's spending plan in terms of education. House leaders say they want to give all public school teachers raises without making them give up their job protections.

They're also looking to pull from lottery money to pay for those raises, instead of making cuts to public education. 

Glenwood Elementary students
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

School leaders across the state say proposed cuts to the Department of Public Instruction would hurt North Carolina classrooms.

The Senate’s spending plan would slash DPI’s budget by 30-percent. Several school administrators say they rely on the department to help run their schools. It helps out with recruiting and evaluating teachers, and offering professional development.

Mike Dunsmore, superintendent of Tyrell County, says his district is the smallest in the state. It serves about 550 students.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

The state Senate has passed a $21.2 billion dollar spending plan that offers big raises for teachers if they forego tenure protections. It also eliminates many teaching assistant positions. Last night, senators amended the budget to take out a provision recommending UNC study closing Elizabeth City State University. They also created a scholarship fund for teaching assistants. 

After nearly three and a half hours of debate that lasted into the evening, Senate President Phil Berger was adamant that his colleagues understand what his chamber’s budget proposal is all about.

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

Senate leaders have released their proposed budget for the next fiscal year. They’re looking to spend about 21 billion dollars. Their plan would make substantial changes to the Medicaid program - and would scale back several state agencies, including the Department of Justice. Senate leaders also proposed hefty pay raises for public school teachers. 

For months now, Senate leaders have made it very clear that they want to give teachers pay raises. But they’ve been pretty coy about the details until this week.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

  

State lawmakers have less than six weeks to construct and pass a budget before the beginning of the next fiscal year. 

The Senate released its spending plan last night, providing raises for teachers in return for sacrificing tenure. The General Assembly is also considering an overhaul to the tax code.

Meanwhile, 14 protesters from the Moral Monday movement were arrested after an overnight sit-in.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jessica Jones about the latest from the legislature.

Wikimedia

  Yesterday the United States House of Representatives reached a two-year budget agreement with concessions on both sides.

The GOP doesn’t touch entitlements and the Democrats get no new taxes. Host Frank Stasio talks to News Channel 14’s Washington reporter Geoffrey Bennett, and Scott Mooneyham, editor for NC Insider.

Wright School
Wright School

Lawmakers will make many choices when they decide on a final state budget in the coming days. One of them will be whether or not to keep open the Wright School, a residential facility in Durham that treats children from across the state who have serious emotional and behavioral disorders.

classroom
Malate269 / Wikimedia Commons

As leaders in state government haggle over what to include – or not include – in the final budget, teachers across North Carolina are concerned about their jobs and their salaries. 

Teacher salaries in North Carolina have not moved much in recent years. Most of that has been due to the recession. But as other states begin to increase teacher salaries as the economy improves, North Carolina has cut teacher salaries by more than 15 percent.

smart start
Wake Smart Start

Republican leaders in the legislature are getting ready to hash out their own versions of the state budget. And the House, Senate and Governor’s version are quite different when it comes to pre-K.

North Carolina has long been praised for its commitment to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs. But all three of the current budgets make cuts to those programs, to varying degrees.

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Benjamin Franklin famously said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  But in the North Carolina legislature, three competing plans seek to reform the tax code, and the future of these plans is all but certain.  Two bills are waiting in the Senate Finance Committee. One bill passed the House yesterday and will move to the Senate.

a pharmacist
NC Department of Health and Human Services

Differences in state budget proposals are prompting mental health advocates to rally for more spending on group homes and treatment. 

Gov. Pat McCrory's budget increases spending on mental health by about 2 percent over the next two years.  But the state Senate's plan cuts about 3 percent. 

photo of the North Carolina Senate
Government & Heritage Library, State Library of NC / Flickr

Host Frank Stasio will speak with North Carolina reporters and Senator Josh Stein about the budget and how it will impact the Triangle, Western and Coastal North Carolina. Jessica Jones is WUNC's Capitol Bureau Chief; Democratic Senator Josh Stein represents Wake County; Kirk Ross is a contributing reporter for Carolina Public Press and a policy adviser to the North Carolina Coastal Federation.