Perdue's budget proposal owned the news cycle today, here and all over the state. It was wall-to-wall coverage— the plan rollout, the staff walk-through, reactions from Rs and Ds, teachers and state workers, county officials and dogwalkers and random guys on streets.
The intense coverage was fair. This IS the first time since at least 1870 that a Democratic governor has handed a budget to a Republican-controlled legislature, and it comes during the biggest economic upheaval since the Great Depression, too. So it was a pretty historic day.
But it's also fair to point out that, at least for the past decade, governors' budgets have found more use as doorstops than as roadmaps. Legislators tend to like to write their own spending plans, finding out in the process what the governor will or won't support.
In the meantime, state lawmakers had some other measures to deal with today:
- After a lengthy debate Wednesday, House lawmakers didn't argue much over the final reading of H48, getting rid of four state-mandated End of Course tests. It sailed through, 94 to 13, and is off to the Senate.
- Senate Judiciary 1 heard public comment today on S33, the medical malpractice reform proposal. Most of the audience comments were in opposition to a proposed cap on non-economic damages. Senate leaders are hoping to bring the bill to the floor next week.
- The Charter School Reform bill, S8, was expected to be the day's big debate. But Appropriations Chair Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) pulled it off the Senate calendar and re-referred it to Finance instead. Senate Education co-chair Dan Soucek (R-Watauga) said S8 was sent back because giving some charter schools tax-exempt status could affect state revenues. He doesn't expect it would amount to much, but said it was sent to Finance "out of an abundance of caution."