NCGA claimed a budget agreement – wouldn’t tell us about it

Sep. 12 – NC NOW Legislative Update #30

Why legislators want to insert policy changes into the budget
A budget agreement has been reached!  But we won’t know the details until Monday (15 September).  House and Senate negotiators reached an impasse, and Senator Berger and Speaker Moore worked together behind closed doors to reach the final deal.  House rules require that the budget be publicly available for 72 hours before a vote.  The plan is to allow budget committee members and party caucuses to review the budget over the weekend, release it to the public some time on Monday, and hold a vote by the end of next week to meet the third extension deadline of September 18.  More in “NC legislators reach budget deal but aren’t releasing details” at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article34967892.html

Whatever has been negotiated is the final deal—the budget can only be voted up or down by the members and cannot be amended on the floor (now you understand why legislators want to insert policy changes into the budget).   It is highly unlikely that any Republican members will vote against the budget.

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No agreement on the tax bill
However, there is no agreement on the tax bill.  It will be recalled that the Senate originally included comprehensive tax changes in their budget, which caused budget negotiations to stall until the Senate agreed to take their tax provisions out of the budget bill.   The House included no new tax cuts in its budget, and the Governor has threatened to veto the budget if it includes tax cuts that he considers “too radical.”  But the Senate wants to cut the personal income tax rates while raising the sales tax and expanding the number of  items subject to the sales tax.  The Senate also wants to adopt a new formula for distributing sales tax revenues that would increase the amount of money rural counties receive and cut what counties with municipalities receive.  It is generally believed that the medical expense deduction, which was eliminated last year, will be restored because there was a huge public outcry against this policy.  The tax issues will have to be resolved before there can be a vote on the budget—something that could cause more delay.  For more information on the tax “reforms” the Senate wants, see http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article27083479.html.

Still unresolved: Medicaid and the big bond backed by the Governor
Also unresolved (or if resolved, the agreements have not been made public) are the differences between the House and Senate on Medicaid and what to do about the nearly $300 million bond issue backed by the Governor.  The House has voted to approve the bond issue, but the Senate never considered the bill—which leads to the suspicion that the Senate wants a deal on bonds to be included in the budget.  

Is this any way to run a state?
Next week there will be a lot of information to absorb in a short time with no action possible.  And probably some of the provisions of the budget will not become known until after it is adopted.  Is this any way to run a state?

–Robin Davis
VP-Action, NC National Organization for Women

p.s. Read this article about the real effects of gerrymandered legislative districts in NC and how the NC or US Supreme Court may address this problem. “North Carolina has already conducted two elections under maps that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to rule illegal.”  More at http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article35058987.html

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