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We focused last week on the budget process. The House dispensed with its first round bid quickly, passing it and sending it to the Senate on Friday. The Senate will release its version, then the Conference Committee horse-trading will begin and last way longer than it should. Then it goes to Gov. Cooper, who may decide to veto it if Medicaid expansion hasn't been addressed either through the budget or a separate bill. His veto would be voted on by the NCGA, and if it's not over-ridden, we're probably looking at a Game of Thrones level battle. ⚔️🛡️🗡️ Take a glimpse at the likely political machinations as described pretty accurately by the conservative Carolina Journal.

via GIPHY

The budget is supposed to be enacted (as in signed by the governor) by June 15 in odd-numbered years and June 30 in even-numbered years, but that's been increasingly unusual since 2005, sometimes pushing into September. Three years ago, the NCGA changed its rules so that if a budget isn’t passed on time, the state government automatically operates at current funding levels indefinitely. When a new budget goes in effect, any changes in spending become retroactive to the July 1 start of the current fiscal year. This approach avoids state government shut-downs.

Detailed analysis by the likes of us is not a great use of time yet, as things will certainly change in the Senate. BUT... here are a few highlights:

  • NC Child has a great summary of family/child-related items, see it here.
  • Funds for a virtual pre-kindergarten for at-risk youngsters that was pulled from the budget last Thursday was restored on Friday, much to the chagrin of lawmakers who believe young children need less screen time and more in-person instruction.
  • Teachers with at least 16 years of classroom experience would get an average 4.6% raise. Teachers with less experience wouldn't get an additional raise beyond their step increases.
  • Overall, the House education budget falls short on needs and misleads on raises.
  • Most other state workers would receive a 1% raise or $500, whichever is more. No pension increases for state retirees in the coming year. All proposed raises would be delayed until Jan. 1 instead of starting them in July, at the beginning of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
  • The school voucher program (which makes tax dollars available to private schools that are free to discriminate and allowed to teach any kind of curriculum they choose) would become even less transparent, as the budget would remove the provision that some voucher schools must tell the public how their students are performing academically. There are other provisions that would basically promote and protect the voucher program - at the expense of public schools.
  • There's nothing around Medicaid expansion or "closing the health insurance gap."
  • Rep. Ray Russell (who we helped elect with our postcards!) says the bad outweighs the good in this budget.

Crossover is today, May 9: the date by which a bill must pass in either the House or the Senate in order to remain eligible for consideration in the remainder of the session. The bills that don't pass one chamber by this date are effectively dead for the session - more or less. There are zombie ideas that can rise from the dead after crossover 🧟 by being included in another bill that has already passed one chamber or added to a different but quasi-related bill later in the session. There's lots of action at the NCGA! Check out five things to know about crossover from the N&O. By this time next week, we'll have a better idea of what important bills are still alive and worth our calls, so be sure to check back!

In the meantime, enjoy the spring...

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Tags: (NC Budget, NCPol, NCGA)

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