Local News

Budget Battle Ends After Marathon Session

Posted September 30, 1998

— North Carolina lawmakers finally can see the end of the budget battle. After a marathon session with Governor Hunt Wednesday, legislators compromised on major sticking points and salvaged more than $100 million in federal matching money.

Late night lights in the Governor's mansion signaled the end of the budget impasse.

"Starting at 8:30 in the morning we were going until about 15 minutes before twelve," House Speaker Rep. Harold Brubaker said. "It was very much of a marathon day."

Minutes before midnight a compromise was reached.

"What was at stake was $105 million that we could have lost last night if the Senate hadn't stood strong," Pres. Pro Tempore Sen. Marc Basnight said. "And we also would have lost $25 million that would put people to work." Lawmakers have agreed on:

  • Funding Smart Start for all 100 counties
  • Full funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund
  • Repealing the inheritance tax
  • Modifying the welfare reform agreement
  • Changing state retirement rules to help charter school teachers.

    Now conferees must iron out all the kinks and that could take at least a week. The so-called short session began in May and has lasted longer than any other, which does not sit well with anyone.

    "Like other states we should have session limits. Session limits will stop this," Basnight said. "This won't be occurring. The taxpayers won't be paying us to stay up here, sleep and eat and live in Raleigh for these long, torturous days."

    Those long days could soon be over.

    "It's a great day for the citizens of this state," Brubaker said. "I'd like to go home and get some sleep now."

    The Legislature adjourned Thursday for the weekend. However, members of eight budget conference committees stayed behind to work through Friday. All members return to work Monday night.

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