One of the biggest jobs of the NC General Assembly (NCGA) is tending to the state's budget: income and expenses. Ideally, the budget reflects our shared priorities and values and sets a path for ensuring that individuals, businesses, communities, and the environment all thrive.

The NC House dropped its 285-page version of the biennial budget bill on Tuesday morning. This will likely be a major focus of the remainder of this session, with lots of skirmishes and some big battles ahead. N&O.

We're going to lay the foundation for future budget posts today with NC Budget 101 - and since it's tempting to snooze off talking about budgets, we'll start with a kitten and put a treat at the end!


Each state budget covers two years and is set during the NCGA Long Session, which is what's happening now. The supposed "Short Session" next year is when needed budget tweaks and adjustments can be made, along with passing a bunch of generally regressive bills (at least in recent years). Here's the basic process as described by the UNC School of Government:

  • The NCGA invites the governor to submit a recommended budget to both chambers. The House and Senate alternate triggering the budget process. It's the House's turn this year, and the House's bill will be the legislative vehicle for enacting an Appropriations Act. Everything below applies to 2019; in 2021, the Senate will start the process and everything will be flipped.
  • The governor presents balanced budget recommendations to the NCGA.
  • The House prepares and eventually passes proposed budget legislation for consideration by the Senate.
  • The Senate can accept and pass the House's bill (which happens only in the land of 🌈 and πŸ¦„) or - as always happens - create a substitute proposal and send it back to the House.
  • The House never accepts the Senate's substitution (except in πŸ¦„-land), so a Conference Committee consisting of members from both chambers is appointed to resolve the differences.
  • After much angst, sturm, and drang, a Conference Report is adopted by both chambers and an Appropriations Act is ratified.
  • The ratified act is sent to the governor, who can sign or veto it. If it's vetoed, the veto override process is triggered.
  • There's a TON more info in the UNC School of Government doc if you want to geek out on this!
  • There's good info about what goes into the preparation of the governor's budget recommendation at the NC Office of Budget and Management website.

Governor Cooper released his recommended budget on March 6. It allocates $25.2 billion and includes investments in education and job training, health care, economic development, environmental protection, and public safety, without raising taxes on individuals or establishing new fees. Read more about the governor's budget on his website and check out some analysis of its pros and cons from NC Policy Watch. Here's what the Republican leadership at the NCGA does with most of the governor's budget.


A major difference between this year and the recent past is that the Republicans no longer have a veto-proof majority (thanks in part to US!), so Gov. Cooper holds a stronger hand than he's had. Here's a big picture taste of what the House budget SHOULD include from NC Policy Watch.

The House hopes to pass its version this week - but that's FAR from the end of the process - there will be lots of analyses and stories about this over the coming days and weeks. We already know that this House version has some goofy items - putting stuff in (eg, tax on ride-share services, increased fees on hybrid/electric vehicles) and taking it out 30 pages later. We'll dive into more of the specifics over coming weeks and let you know when we need to make calls to our legislators. In the meantime, give yourself a pat on the back for finishing NC Budget 101! πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰

Now here's your treat, courtesy of Eunice!

Tags: (NC Budget, NCPol, NCGA)

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