This was a slow week at the legislature following a week of frantic activity last week to pass bills to meet the crossover deadline. The main action is taking place behind closed doors and concerns the budget. Most of the good bills we have been following, with the exception of those that include an appropriation, are dead for this session. However, the two bad abortion bills are very much alive and need your attention and action. For more information about these bills and how to take action to oppose them, see https://northcarolinanow.wordpress.com/2021/05/19/north-carolina-now-legislative-update-16-17-may-2021/
Passing a budget for FY21-23 is the main task that remains to be accomplished this legislative session. Last session no budget passed. The governor vetoed the budget submitted by the legislature because it did not include expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) or adequate funding for education, including raises for teachers. The House overrode his veto in a controversial vote, but the Senate managed to support it. No budget passed during the 2019 session or in the 2020 session. When the legislature fails to pass a new budget, the old budget remains in effect except where individual bills have been passed and signed by the governor to allocate funds for specific items. The technical term for this situation is “hot mess.”
Everyone wants to avoid another hot mess this year and there have been indications that the legislators have been working with the governor to craft a budget. The North Carolina fiscal year begins on July 1, and that is the target date for passing a new budget. This target is generally missed. The governor has submitted his budget to the legislature (see https://governor.nc.gov/news/governor-cooper-proposes-budget-invest-strong-resilient-and-ready-north-carolina). The next step is for the legislature to pass its own budget incorporating enough of the governor’s budget for him to agree to sign the final document, negotiating along the way. But this year the path forward has an obstacle—the House and Senate do not agree on how big the budget should be, which is the first step towards creating a budget. Basically, the Senate wants a smaller budget than the House (see https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/north-carolina/articles/2021-05-07/nc-budget-dance-slowed-as-gop-leaders-differ-on-bottom-line). Bottom line: Don’t expect a budget any time soon.
See whole report at North Carolina NOW Legislative Update #17 – 24 May 2021