Raleigh, N.C. — After a tense morning meeting marked by finger-pointing and a walkout, House and Senate budget negotiators made a slight step forward toward a deal in a short meeting Wednesday afternoon.
House leaders offered – and Senate leaders accepted – a compromise on lottery revenue numbers.
House leaders had proposed doubling the amount of money the lottery spends on advertising in order to increase ticket sales, but the proposal came with strings attached in the form of new restrictions on lottery advertising that would have limited the increase in revenue to $29.5 million.
Senate leaders wouldn't accept that proposal.
Senior House budget writer Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, said House leaders "believe that is still a very good and very valid idea." But, he added, "in order to help move the process along," House negotiators would remove the additional $29.5 million from their projected bottom line.
"I appreciate the compromise," Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, responded. "That’s a big sticking piece that we’ve been trying to settle for a few days."
Brown said the Senate would come up with another offer and encouraged House negotiators to work on a new offer of their own.
Tensions from the morning's conflict, however, were still evident.
During the lunch break, someone on the Senate staff decorated the meeting room with Christmas wreaths and lights, a reference to earlier threats by negotiators on both sides to stay till Christmas to get their way.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, walked around the room before the meeting began, handing out lumps of coal to House members.
The two negotiating teams are planning additional public meetings Thursday.