Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory and top legislative leaders have cleared a major stumbling block in this summer's stalled budget negotiations, agreeing Tuesday that state government will spend $21.74 billion during the current fiscal year.
North Carolina's budget year began on July 1, but members of the House and the Senate have been unable to agree on a new spending plan. In particular, they have differed over how much money to spend in the new year. Until that bottom line number was settled, negotiations couldn't move forward.
To give themselves more time for negotiations, lawmakers have passed two different temporary spending measures. The latest continuing resolution expires on Aug. 31.
Senators originally passed a $21.47 billion budget, saying the state needs to limit spending even though it is running a surplus. They have argued for tax cuts and pushed a constitutional amendment that would permanently restrain spending. Meanwhile, House members voted to spend more, $22.15 billion next year, in an effort to make up for cuts to services that occurred during the recent recession.
The new budget number is a 3.1 percent increase from the current year's spending – roughly in the middle of the two proposals.
"This agreement is the result of ongoing dialog during the last several weeks. We remain committed to working with the House and Senate to find common sense solutions that create jobs, strengthen education and fund critical infrastructure in North Carolina," McCrory said in a statement.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger confirmed the deal shortly after McCrory's statement.
Now that there is an agreement, budget writers from both chambers will decide how much money will go to each of the major budget areas, such as K-12 education, public safety and health. From there, lawmakers will make decisions about what programs are funded and which are cut.