@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

General Assembly approves $20.6 billion state budget

Posted July 24, 2013
Updated July 26, 2013

— State lawmakers gave their final blessing to the $20.6 billion budget Wednesday afternoon.

Senators voted 31-17 in favor of the bill, while the House voted 66-52 in favor. The measure now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature or veto. 

The measure contains several different policy matters, including creating a system of vouchers that would put tax dollars toward paying for private schooling for some low-income students. Another education provision would strip teachers of career status, a benefit many call tenure. 

Budget writers also had to cope with a series of unexpected costs in the Department of Health and Human services, particularly with Medicaid. The plan also begins to restore reserve funds set aside for emergency purposes. 

In the House, Speaker Thom Tillis took the unusual, if not unprecedented step, of taking a seat on the floor so he could debate the bill. His comments reflected frustration with criticism that Democrats have heaped upon Republicans who control both the House and Senate. 

"Does anybody really think that I came down to this legislature so we wouldn't take care of the helpless who need the state's help? That's ridiculous," Tillis said.

He said that it was Democrats who controlled the legislature until the end of 2010 who created many of the budget problems with which the state is still coping. Tillis pointed specifically to cost overruns in the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled. 

"What we have to do first is drain the swamp of bad decisions that have been made in this legislature for decades," he said.

Democrats focused the bulk of their comments on education. In particular, they pointed to the state's failure to raise teacher salaries.

"There's a lot of parents that teach our kids, leave school and work a second job. There's a lot of parents that teach our kids, leave our schools and go apply for Medicaid. You may not want to believe it, but it's true," said Rep. Carla Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg.

Virtually all the debate in the Senate Wednesday focused on education, with Democrats decrying cuts to the public schools and university system and Republicans defending their plan as "responsible."

Typical was an exchange between Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt and Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca.

"In this budget, we hurt public schools, teachers. In prior bills, we've attacked women," started Nesbitt, D-Buncombe.

Apodaca, R-Henderson, interrupted.

"What bill are we talking about here?" he asked, suggesting that Nesbitt wasn't focusing on material actually in the bill. 

"You hurt the public schools in this bill," Nesbitt replied.

"Would you point out in this budget where we hurt the public schools?" Apodaca asked.

Nesbitt paused for a moment.

"Page 1," Nesbitt said. "You cut half a billion dollars for education in this budget."

Republicans pushed back against that assertion, saying the state would put more money into education in 2013-14 than it did the previous fiscal year. Nesbitt was pointing to numbers that show how much would need to be spent to keep up with the growth of the K-12 and university systems.

"We did not raise class sizes, senator," said Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph. "We gave flexibility to the school districts. If anybody cuts teachers, it will be the local systems doing that."

139 Comments

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  • billsorensonnc Jul 25, 2013

    With a stroke ofa pen Governor, children WILL die. Who am I to make such a comment? I am a 21 year veteran teacher that until a few weeks ago was a registered republican, I have never been a member of NCAE, and I have never been ashamed of the Republican Party. I am now. Let me explain my comment and why its a fact. You see Governor, in my 21 years there have been 5 separate times when I personally, acting as a teacher and mentor, intervened with a child contemplating or attempting suicide. Teenagers are not trusting individuals and only those that have established a rapport of trust ever wins their confidence. Well sir, by signing that budget you continued the four year trend of eliminating teachers and teacher assistants. These folks are not just educators they are the safety net that catches these lost children. And the TA's, well they save so many kids from falling miserably behind and eventually giving up and dropping out. So no Mr. McCrory, I won't celebrate the budget you passed

  • Cary Progressive Jul 25, 2013

    "The Monday puppets accomplished nothing and the GA is all but finished. -NoTimeForStupidity"

    Sounds like you have some time for stupidity: your own. The protests accomplished a whopping 22% drop in approval of the NC GOP Regressive Party!

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/07/abortion-bill-hurting-nc-republicans.html

  • Cary Progressive Jul 25, 2013

    Repubs will get their jollies for awhile with these laws. It's like a kid stealing something. They run around with it for awhile until they get caught. In this case, they'll get caught in 2014 elections. That 22% drop in support over just 3 months must really smart!

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/07/abortion-bill-hurting-nc-republicans.html

  • renman Jul 25, 2013

    "There are always flaws in any form of government. Now if your a teacher in this state, I feel for you. I really do. But fundamentally, it is your (and the organizations you support) failure to educate, illuminate and indoctrinate these legislators as to what they should have done with the budget."

    Nigh to impossible for the association (not a union) NCEA and individual teachers to be hear over the $$$$$$$$$ of the corporations and major private donors who have the ear of the leadership.

    And I use the term leadership loosely as true leaders would engage all constituents and not just execute a backroom deal between two people.

  • sisu Jul 25, 2013

    I apologize. I was incorrect about McCrory. There is another one from Florida I was thinking about. Can't remember who. I stand by the Tillis and Berger comment, though.

  • sisu Jul 25, 2013

    There are always flaws in any form of government. Now if your a teacher in this state, I feel for you. I really do. But fundamentally, it is your (and the organizations you support) failure to educate, illuminate and indoctrinate these legislators as to what they should have done with the budget.
    Click to view my profile-V-A-V-A-V-
    July 25, 2013 3:26 p.m

    You'll correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that neither Tillis, nor Berger, nor McCrory are the products of educators of this state.

  • Ernest B. Jul 25, 2013

    I am not an Obama fan. I respect his office. That's about it. He was down in Jacksonville, Fla. today pitching the idea of expanding America's seaports. Doing this should expand trade and create more jobs. It wouldn't be a bad idea for Wilmington either; not that I'm wanting to see less cargo containers in Newport News. ;)

    But seriously, there are good Republican ideas. And occasionally, there are some good democrat ideas. There are usually no good tea party ideas. But, there is a place for a good and effective government. An effective government is a scary thing for most conservatives. Because what part of our government (federal, state or otherwise) do we really consider effective?

    There are always flaws in any form of government. Now if your a teacher in this state, I feel for you. I really do. But fundamentally, it is your (and the organizations you support) failure to educate, illuminate and indoctrinate these legislators as to what they should have done with the budget.

  • WralCensorsAreBias Jul 25, 2013

    Too bad these stories are now dropping off the front pages and headlines. It's over. The Monday puppets accomplished nothing and the GA is all but finished.

    Back to your regularly schedule programming.

  • goldenosprey Jul 25, 2013

    to have someone GIVEN a voucher to attend the private school over the public school is a socialist move IMO" Arfamr

    Geez, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    It's kind of the reverse of socialism. Socialism is related to state appropriating formerly private property for use of the public. Vouchers appropriate taxpayer (public) money for individuals who use it to benefit a private entity (christian madrasah). Worse than socialism like the infamous Kehlo decision IMO.

    " Look at the post office (subsidized)..." Monkey Joe WRONG!!!

    USPS is funded by voluntary postage only, which Congress acts to regulate at below sustainable rates and also forces the USPS to fund its pension for far longer than any private industry.

    Try to get UPS to deliver on Saturday or send a letter anywhere in the US for $.42. When I was in business I quit using two private carriers in disgust.

  • larlar515 Jul 25, 2013

    Monkey joe,
    The day I can fire a student for cussing me out or not doing homework can be the day we run schools like a business.
    Furthermore the state spends about 8500 per pupil 4 lowest in the US.
    Also studies have confirmed that higher teacher pay is associated with higher test scores.
    But that research doesn't matter....

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