North Carolina NOW Legislative Update—September 3, 2019
Jump to the full summary and listing of bills NC NOW is tracking at NC NOW Legislative Update #27 (3Sep19).
There has been movement on both the budget and Medicaid transformation. To get around the impasse over the vetoed budget, the legislature has passed a slew of stand-alone budget bills addressing specific areas. Most significantly, bills giving pay raises to various state employees were passed and signed by Governor Cooper because both the vetoed budget and the Governor’s proposed compromise budget agree on these pay raises. However, the two budgets do not agree on pay raises for teachers. The bill dealing with teacher pay raises was sent back to committee because Democrats had prepared ten amendments. Republicans did not want recorded votes against these proposed amendments. This summary by Rep. Marcia Morey of Durham nicely sums up the situation:
“So today [August 29] with the veto override vote pending for more than 50 days, mini budget bills are now being voted on. Democrats voted for bills that matched the budget conference report with raises for correction officers, highway patrol, ALE, state employees. When the teacher pay raise bill came up, we were ready with 10 amendments for an 8% raise, better retirement COLA and raises for non certified school workers, community college and UNC system employees. When the Speaker saw all our amendments, he withdrew the bill and sent it back to Appropriations Committee. Political games continue. We show we can negotiate but GOP won’t budge. As the Governor said, they are short changing and strong arming teachers while denying Medicaid expansion. Our long hot summer continues but we are holding strong for all North Carolinians.”
Senator Jeff Jackson has a Facebook post that exposes the Republican strategy for preventing Democrats from amending a bill. This is almost unbelievable:
“Check out the sneaky move Republican leadership just pulled to avoid giving a meaningful raise to non-certified school personnel (teacher assistants, custodians, and bus drivers), university employees, and community college employees:
They were running a bill to do a raise of 1% (or less). Then they heard that Democrats were planning on offering amendments to increase that amount.
Republican leadership knows they’re going to vote against those amendments, but they don’t want to be on record doing so.
So here’s the move:
They changed the title of the bill to include virtually everything the bill does – including exactly how much money all these different groups would get. It’s a very, very long title.
Why? Because we have a rule that says your amendment can’t change the title of the bill. Which means the amendments Democrats were preparing – which would have changed how much money those groups got, and thereby changed the title of the bill – would be ineligible and couldn’t be voted on.
As a result, Democrats pulled their support for the bill and the bill was pulled from the floor. No vote.
And what was the bill title? Here you go:
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT CONSISTENT WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE AND COMMITTEE REPORT FOR HOUSE BILL 966 OF THE 2019 REGULAR SESSION (1) APPROPRIATING FUNDS TO AWARD LEGISLATIVELY MANDATED SALARY INCREASES IN EACH YEAR OF THE 2019-2021 FISCAL BIENNIUM TO EMPLOYEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT A FUNDING LEVEL SUPPORTING A ONE-HALF OF ONE PERCENT INCREASE AND TO EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM AT A FUNDING LEVEL SUPPORTING A ONE PERCENT INCREASE PURSUANT TO POLICIES ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AND THE STATE BOARD OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES, RESPECTIVELY, AND ALSO APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR FACULTY RETENTION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA IN THE AMOUNT OF SIX MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE 2019-2020 FISCAL YEAR AND ELEVEN MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED THIRTEEN DOLLARS FOR THE 2020-2021 FISCAL YEAR, (2) APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE 2019-2020 FISCAL YEAR TO PROVIDE A ONE PERCENT SALARY INCREASE FOR NONCERTIFIED PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OR A PRORATED AMOUNT AS APPROPRIATE AND EXPRESSING THE INTENTION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS FOR THE 2020-2021 FISCAL YEAR TO PROVIDE A ONE PERCENT SALARY INCREASE FOR NONCERTIFIED PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OR A PRORATED AMOUNT AS APPROPRIATE, (3) REQUIRING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION TO STUDY AND REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST AND SCHOOL COUNSELOR POSITIONS, (4) SETTING THE EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION RATES FOR RETIREMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS, (5) PROVIDING TWO ONE-TIME COST-OF-LIVING SUPPLEMENTS THAT ARE BOTH IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE-HALF OF ONE PERCENT OF A BENEFICIARY’S ANNUAL RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE, (6) APPROPRIATING FUNDS TO IMPLEMENT CONNER’S LAW, AND (7) AMENDING SPECIAL INSURANCE BENEFITS OFFERINGS.”
Governor Cooper vetoed House Bill 555, Medicaid Transformation Implementation that would change Medicaid from fee-for-service to managed care. Medicaid transformation is contained in the budget the Governor vetoed, but this stand-alone bill is one of the piecemeal budget bills passed by the legislature.
See the full summary and listing of bills NC NOW is tracking at NC NOW Legislative Update #27 (3Sep19). Written by NC NOW VP of Political Action and Lobbyist, Robin Davis.