RALEIGH, N.C. — Adjustments to the state budget for the coming year are taking shape in the North Carolina House.
The House debated dozens of amendments to the spending plan Wednesday afternoon before taking the two required votes on its $20.3 billion proposal for the year starting July 1.
After more than eight hours of debate, the House approved the budget by a veto-proof margin. Five Democrats joined the Republican majority in the 73-46 vote.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where Republican leaders there will make their changes to it.
Lawmakers must pass all budget adjustments by June 30.
Gov. Beverly Perdue panned the spending plan on Thursday, saying that it "locks in" cuts to education that lawmakers made a year ago.
“I want to prepare our children to compete not just with our neighbors, but to compete globally for high-paying, 21st century jobs. In order to do that, we need an investment in education that moves North Carolina forward. The House’s budget barely keeps us in neutral," Perdue said in a statement. "While their budget is insufficient in the K-12 area, funding levels for our community colleges and public universities are even worse. We need more revenue to adequately fund our education system. In order to do right by our children, we must invest in their future.”
The chamber's budget-writing committee on Tuesday approved the proposal that spends almost 2 percent more compared with the plan approved in the two-year budget in 2011. The Republican-led House plan does not raise taxes to generate the extra funds.
Republican leaders say the budget they've crafted covers the state's top priorities. The plan would avoid about $330 million in cuts to schools that were scheduled to happen this year.
It also includes a one time bonus of $250 and five days of leave for state workers and teachers, and adds money to Medicaid to cover increases to services.
Senior House Budget Chairman Harold Brubaker said lawmakers wrote the budget the same way households do across North Carolina.
"We didn't borrow any money to try to fill the gap. We didn't raise taxes to have additional spending. We spent what came in," said Brubaker, R-Randolph.
Democrats say the budget does not make up enough for school districts that lost thousands of workers last year.
"They say that they are meeting the needs of the children of this state. They are not; they are failing to do so," House Minority Leader Joe Hackney said.
Hackney, D-Orange, said Republicans should have considered a temporary sales tax to repair last year's deep cuts to schools and services. Gov. Beverly Perdue has lobbied in recent months for a 0.75-cent increase to the state sales tax rate to generate more money for public schools.