RALEIGH — Lawmakers in Raleigh spent Memorial Day crunching numbers and plowing through stacks of budget reports.
TheHouse Appropriations Committeerolled out its budget Monday. It includes hefty spending increases for education, but it does not factor in a lawsuit that will drain hundreds of million of dollars from the state coffers.
During a year when money is tight, House members are making education a priority.
"Number one is to follow through what we've promised on public education, teachers salaries, bonus incentives, and high expectations. We've done that," saysRep. Richard Moore. "Priority number two is our community colleges."
The spending plan includes pay raises for teachers and increased funding for theSmart Startearly childhood program. But it does not account for $360 million the state has to shell out to refund the intangibles tax.
"The intangibles tax case is a little bit fuzzy, murky if you will," saysRep. David Redwine. "We haven't been told yet exactly what that settlement might be, so this budget does not attempt to answer that question at this time."
Lawmakers say they are waiting to learn exactly how and when they will have to make good on the refunds. Marvin Dorman, the state's chief budget officer, says lawmakers can plug that hole in the budget later.
"The fact that you pass an appropriations bill does not mean that before they adjourn they will not come back and speak to it," Dorman said.
The budget does include $400 million to pay out the Bailey case, which deals with state retiree's pensions. The full House could vote on the budget as early as Wednesday, and then send it to the Senate.