NC NOW’s twentieth legislative update is available for members. This update is for the week ending June 20th. All updates include a list of bills that NC NOW is tracking. This summary and report were written by Robin Davis. There is some additional information in the postscripts, added by Gailya Paliga.
NC NOW’s Legislative Update #20 Summary – June 20, 2015
Senate’s Budget differs greatly from the House’s Budget
The Senate released its budget last Monday and passed it on Thursday. As expected, it is very different from the House budget. The House, anticipating continued economic improvement and increased revenues, passed a $22.2 billion budget—a 5 percent spending increase. The Senate proposes a $21.47 billion budget—only a 2 percent spending increase. Senate leaders point out that their budget is close to the Governor’s $21.52 billion budget. However, the Governor made his budget proposal in March when the economy was more sluggish and there was a projected revenue shortfall. Today there is a budget surplus of $419 million.
Various articles have summarized the fiscal differences between the House and Senate budgets. Here is a good overview: http://www.wral.com/budget-differences-could-lead-to-long-legislative-summer/14724805/. If you want to get down into the weeds, you can start here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article10333277.html.
Senate’s Budget Like A “Right Wing Manifesto”
But the Senate budget is radically different from the House budget because in addition to the fiscal differences, it also incorporates policy and administrative changes (some specifically rejected by the House) that the House wrote into separate bills. NC Policy Watch gives the best description of these new policies contained in the Senate budget and labels the budget itself a “right-wing manifesto” (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/16/the-senates-504-page-budget-manifesto/). On the House side, there is suspicion even among some House Republicans that a lot of what is included in the Senate budget is there for leverage in the bargaining process, which will be the next step on the road to a budget.
Process of Reconciling the Budgets is Next
The House is expected to vote to reject the Senate budget early next week. After that, a conference committee consisting of members from both houses will be appointed to work out the differences behind closed doors. The differences are so huge—both in fiscal appropriations and in policy and administrative proposals that we can expect a long hot summer of budget negotiations.
Leaders of both houses agree that it is unlikely agreement will be reached before the beginning of the new fiscal year (July 1). It will therefore be necessary to pass a continuation budget that will continue spending at present levels until there is final agreement on a new budget.
While budget negotiations are going on, action on bills on other topics will resume. Therefore, we must continue to be vigilant to protect women’s rights.
— Robin Davis
p.s. There are a few other things that the Senate did that you need to know. As if NC wasn’t already running so many good teachers off, and as if working for the state hadn’t already gotten so much more difficult and unpleasant with lay-offs, resignations, and leadership changes. According to NC Policy Watch, “A few short lines in the 2015-17 Senate budget would eliminate state-paid health retirement benefits for teachers and state employees hired after January 1, 2016.” Read more in “Senate budget ends health retirement benefits for future teachers and state employees“ at http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/19/senate-budget-ends-health-retirement-benefits-for-future-teachers-and-state-employees/
p.p.s. In another shocking move, “the Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaca amended the Senate Budget bill to take $3 million away from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Lawand give it to a health education center in his area.” Read about it at “The Vindictiveness of the Senate’s Bully Budget” at http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2015/06/18/the-vindictiveness-of-the-senates-bully-budget/
p.p.p.s. You support our work as a current member. NC NOW provides legislative updates to NC NOW members across the state. Join or rejoin NOW, at https://northcarolinanow.wordpress.com/join-now/