Raleigh, N.C. — House Republican leaders unveiled a new version of their budget proposal Thursday afternoon, bowing to pressures from hardliners within their own caucus as well as from outside groups unhappy with tax credits and fees in the original version.
The compromise plan cuts the proposed increase in Division of Motor Vehicles fees from 50 percent to 30 percent.
"There was some concern that some of those fees were maybe being raised a little more aggressively than what some were interested in," explained senior budget Chairman Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.
The revised budget also offers smaller tax incentive proposals: The film tax credit would go from $60 million to $40 million for each of the next two years. The renewable energy tax credit would be extended for only two years instead of four. The $44 million research and development tax credit is no longer included in the plan.
The proposal also adds $500,000 each year to funding for vouchers for special-needs students to attend private schools.
"These changes make a big difference for a lot of us," said House Majority Leader Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, who voted against the tax credits and fees in the original proposal earlier in the week. "I think they put the money in the best place."
House Speaker Tim Moore, Dollar, and Rules Committee Chairman Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, have been working all week to secure their caucus' support for the plan. Hager said they now have it.
"We're well ahead of where we need to be as far as our vote count," Hager said.
Moore, R-Cleveland, highlighted the budget's investment in the courts system and pointed out that it maintains the restoration of the medical expense tax deduction for taxpayers of all ages.
"I believe you'll see a strong bipartisan vote for this bill," he said. "It really does fund the [state's] priorities, and it does so responsibly."
Asked about managing his first budget process as speaker, he joked, "I should have taken more math classes."
The measure breezed through the Rules Committee on Thursday afternoon on a voice vote that sounded unanimous. It will be debated on the House floor Thursday evening.