Republican Leaders Push Forward Piecemeal State Budget Provisions, Employee Compensation Packages To Be Discussed Next Week
Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager
After weeks without any new action on the vetoed State budget, Republican leaders in the House and Senate have begun pulling certain budget provisions to run as separate, mini budget bills. Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) confirmed yesterday during a press conference on returning surplus funds to taxpayers that they have begun sending forward pieces of the budget that are “widely agreed upon” for stand-alone approval. So far, lawmakers in the Senate have pulled budget provisions regarding salary raises for correctional officers and funding for Medicaid transformation implementation. Speaker Moore stated during the press conference, “The House will be taking the lead on most of the employee compensation packages,” including raises for teachers and state employees. Moore noted these salary items are likely to be discussed in the House next week.
While this new piecemeal budget approach attempts to work around the Governor’s veto, it is still unknown whether Democrats, and ultimately the Governor, will approve these mini budget bills. Some Democrats have argued budget items such as teacher raises are not “widely agreed upon,” as the Governor’s budget proposal allocates significantly more funding.
Certain Democrats have also argued in favor of utilizing the $900 million budget surplus to supplement budget allocations for items such as educator pay and school construction, but Republicans have not yet seemed willing to increase the funding amounts set forth in the vetoed budget. During a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Thursday morning, Sen. Berger presented the Taxpayer Refund Act, which proposes to return a portion of the surplus funds to taxpayers. This bill, which previously contained language authorizing the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to carry forward funds for an anonymous safety tip application, is scheduled to be heard on Monday in the Senate Rules Committee.