Raleigh, N.C. — House and Senate leaders have agreed to a continuing budget resolution that gives the chambers until Aug. 14 to reach a budget compromise.
The House voted 107 to 1 to approve the measure Monday tonight, with the Senate to follow at 9:30 A.M. Tuesday. The budget deadline is 11:59 P.M. Tuesday.
The 45-day extension in Senate Bill 534 is substantially shorter than the 90-day window leaders had initially discussed but longer than the 30 days urged by Gov. Pat McCrory in a letter to lawmakers Monday afternoon. Given that both the House and the Senate have agreed to take the first week of July off, the continuing resolution, or CR, allows them just five weeks to come to agreement on spending, Medicaid reform and a major tax overhaul.
The bill continues state funding at current levels with a few exceptions. Beginning teachers would still get their salary bump to $35,000, but no other raises or step increases are to be granted under the CR. However, a change made Monday night ensures no teacher will make less than their current compensation under the bill.
The measure also includes $100,236,542 to go to schools to cover enrollment growth, though the bill also says that number is "subject to adjustment." It does not include funding for driver's education programs, instead directing local school boards to maintain their current programs but to use other funds and fees to cover the cost.
Spending cuts included in both House and Senate budgets are to be implemented by the Office of State Budget and Management. and state employees whose positions were eliminated in both budget proposals are to be sent their 30-day notices.
"This is a pretty clean – in my view, very clean – continuing resolution, designed to neither benefit nor give up a position of either the House or Senate, but to make sure we have funds to keep state government operating," said House senior budget chairman Nelson Dollar to the Appropriations committee Monday night.
Dollar, R-Wake, pointed out that the bill funds operations at 100 percent of current budget levels, rather than at 95 percent as in years past.
Rep. Frank Iler asked about funding for teaching assistants, a topic not specifically addressed in the continuing resolution.
"is there a guarantee that we can let our LEAs know there will be no reduction in funding that would affect TAs?" asked Iler, R-Brunswick.
Dollar said the combination of 100 percent of current funding plus the additional $100.2M should cover the cost.
"We believe there’ll be more than sufficient funds for the LEAs to pay for what they believe is most important in the classroom," Dollar responded. "Any choice that any given LEA would make with respect to personnel would be their choice, not a choice made for them by this continuing resolution.”