NC NOW Legislative Update #16 of 2017 is available. This legislative update includes the latest on the Senate budget, like proposed slashes to food stamps program, and how the House is going to try address some of the outrages of it.
“Last week the Senate passed its budget in a rushed process that allowed for
only limited debate and less than 72 hours of public availability before passage.”
“This week the process of sorting out what the budget contains beyond
appropriations and cuts continues. In addition to budgetary items, the budget
also includes new policies. Including policies in a budget bill is a way to bypass
the normal legislative process and pass controversial matters with little or no
public notice or debate. N. C. Policy Watch has identified twelve significant
policy changes buried in the Senate budget.” See
“One of the most disturbing provisions of the Senate budget is a policy change concerning eligibility for SNAP, the program that used to be called food stamps, that would effectively cut off 133,000 people from receiving nutritional assistance. The move was not motivated by saving the state money because the program is paid for entirely with federal funds and costs the state nothing.” See http://www.wral.com/senate-budget-would-cut-off-food-aid-to-133-000/16703663/, 5/15/17.
And there is more, because thank goodness that “[t]he House is working on its version of the budget which is expected to correct some of the outrages in the Senate version. “
Plus, see the updates and the bill tracking that are included in all of this session’s legislative updates.
See NC NOW Legislative Update 16.
For the week ending 14 May 2017
The Senate passed its $22.9 billion budget after 3am on Friday morning. The 800 page document (SB257, Appropriations Act of 2017) was presented during a press conference on Tuesday, May 9, and posted online late Tuesday night. On Wednesday, the proposed budget cleared a series of committees and the required two votes in the Senate began on Thursday and wrapped up early Friday morning. The two votes cannot be held on the same day; therefore, the Senate went into recess after the first vote and reconvened after midnight for the final vote. Amendments offered by Democratic Senators were all voted down, and the budget passed 32-15 in a party line vote.
Phil Berger, President Pro Tempore of the NC Senate, defending HB2, 4/20/16. Photo Credit News and Observer
But in the process, the Republican leadership made a move of unparalleled pettiness and vindictiveness that hits a new political low. Frustrated by the delay created by the budget amendments offered by Democrats, the Republican leadership retaliated by slashing a million dollars in education funds from two poverty-stricken Democratic districts. See: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article150397682.html, 5/13/17.
Read more about the Senate’s budget, which includes a billion-dollar tax cut package, and next steps for the budget, at NC NOW Legislative Update #15. You’ll also find updates on ERA, Lawsuits, and our bill tracking.
Governor Cooper introduced his proposed budget for FY 2017-2018 on March 1, 2017. It emphasizes increased spending on education and expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Since Republicans have veto-proof majorities in both houses, it is more aspirational than practical, and it is unlikely that the proposals in this budget will make much progress in the General Assembly. For highlights, see: http://www.wral.com/highlights-of-gov-roy-cooper-s-proposed-statebudget/16560168/
Governor Cooper introduced his budget at Durham Technical Community College
There were dueling press conferences in the Legislative Building on the repeal of HB2. Proponents of a full repeal with no strings attached were pitted against supporters or the bipartisan HB186 that would repeal HB2 but also allow opponents of local ordinances to call for a referendum on any proposed ordinance. The Governor weighed in by observing that a compromise bill was possible if proponents of HB186 would negotiate over the referendum provision—which so far they will not do. For a fuller account, see http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/statepolitics/article135420484.html
Senator Norman Sanderson of Pamlico County has filed a draconian bill to crack down on local governments and public universities that don’t comply with federal immigration laws or violate the state’s 2015 law against sanctuary city policies. The bill (S145) would strip funding from state universities that do not comply with the law and deprive local governments of revenue from a wide variety of sources. There are disturbing indications that the Senate leadership may support this bill. A milder bill (H63) is being considered in the house that does not target universities and has a shorter list of state revenue sources that would be denied to municipalities. For more details see: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/statepolitics/article135544723.html
Since our Republican-dominated General Assembly has been passing law after law that is being or has been challenged in court, in addition to keeping up with new legislation introduced this session, I believe it is equally important to track the status of the various challenges to laws that have already been passed.
See the whole North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_5 from 5Mar17, including bill tracking.
North Carolina NOW Legislative Update
28 May 2016
This week the focus was still on the budget. The Senate has not yet released its proposed budget; however, it is expected to do so on Tuesday.
The Senate did release its plan for teacher pay raises, and the plan is significantly more ambitious (and costly) than the across-the-board raise averaging four percent in the House budget. See North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_5.28_May_2016 for more.
The House and Senate also disagree about how to phase in cuts to state income tax by raising the standard deduction. The House proposes to phase in the cuts over a period of four years, but the Senate wants to phase in the same cuts over a period of two years. See North_Carolina_NOW_Legislative_Update_5.28_May_2016 for more.
This year’s budget process began with both the House and the Senate agreeing to cap the budget at a little over $22 billion using a formula tied to population growth plus inflation instead of calculating what the citizens will need and figuring out how best to meet those needs. This formula also allows for reducing revenue by more tax cuts and not even spending all of the projected tax revenues (“leaving money on the table”).