Raleigh, N.C. — House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger on Wednesday gave insight into the deal Gov. Beverly Perdue offered last week to let their proposed $20.2 billion budget pass into law.
"The towns and the counties, the education systems, in just a couple of days, are going to begin a new fiscal year," Tillis said. "They're going to have to make worst-case assumptions about their budget if are not able to come in with a budget that has a substantial increase in funding for this year."
Perdue said Tuesday that she had offered a deal to Berger and Tillis that would have let her sign the budget, or at least let it go into law without her signature. However, Perdue did not specify what that deal would look like.
Berger and Tillis said Tuesday that it involved shifting $100 million from reserve funds that lawmakers had set aside to deal with potential shortfall in the Medicaid program.
During a Tuesday news conference, Perdue urged lawmakers to "do more for the children of North Carolina" and increase funding for public schools in the budget.
Berger said the spending plan can't be too bad if the governor believes such a small shift could fix it, noting, "$100 million in a $20 billion budget, it seems to me, is not the difference between nirvana and devastation."
Perdue spokeswoman Chris Mackey broke down the $100 million, noting more than three-quarters of it would reduce the discretionary cuts school districts have been asked to make. Another $15 million would go to early childhood education.
The remaining $9 million would go for compensation to victims of the state's forced sterilization program, hiring more probation officers and providing the state match to obtain federal funds for election improvements.
Tillis said he expects the General Assembly to adjourn by early next week, at the latest.
"Outside of the budget, there is no other measure that will keep us here longer," he said.
That leaves at least two high-profile bills in tenuous positions.
House lawmakers have been studying a measure that would tax and regulate sweepstakes machines that mimic gambling.
"I don't think we have sufficient time to take it up," Tillis said. He said sweepstakes may come up as part of a tax reform bill next year, but added, "I don't see any of that moving for the remainder of this session."
House lawmakers are also working on a bill that would allow corporations to get a tax credit in exchange for donating to a fund that would give scholarships to low-income families who want to send their children to private schools.
That bill was discussed in the House Finance Committee Wednesday morning but did not get a vote. Tillis said he was uncertain whether it would pass before the session ends on Monday or Tuesday.