State News

House restores some cuts in proposed budget

Posted June 10, 2009
Updated June 22, 2009

State budget

— A proposed state budget and tax plan to ease some cuts inside the spending proposal has cleared two major hurdles in the House and could go to a floor vote late Wednesday.

The House Appropriations Committee recommended a nearly $18 billion spending plan for next year late Tuesday after considering dozens of amendments.

But the chamber's Finance Committee also agreed to $784 million in tax increases pushed by Democrats. The tax package was initially written to generate $937 million, but higher taxes on cigarettes, beer and wine were eliminated in the final version.

The largest piece of the approved tax package would raise income taxes on couples earning more than $200,000 a year and would add a quarter-cent to the state sales tax.

"It's very important because it can restore some of the cuts we have made both in education, health and human services, justice and public safety and other subcommittees," said Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham. "It's not much, but it will help restore a little."

The House Appropriations Committee that Michaux chairs passed a budget proposal that featured only cuts in spending. That budget was being reworked Wednesday with what he called a small amount of revenue.

"It's like taking aspirin for a headache. It may dull the pain a little, but it's still there," he said.

The extra revenue allowed House subcommittees to add $355 million back to the public education budget and $300 million to the Department of Health and Human Services.

House leaders said the restored school funding would save about 5,000 teaching jobs by allowing classes in kindergarten through grade 3 to remain at current sizes – larger classes would mean fewer teachers. The extra money also would prevent some personnel cuts at community colleges and the University of North Carolina system.

Much of the DHHS funding would restore money cut from public health and mental health programs. The Smart Start preschool program would get back $20 million, and cuts to Medicaid programs like physical, occupational and speech therapy were dropped altogether.

"The first thing we looked at was, what can we restore that puts the most services back to individuals across the state?" said Rep. Bob England, D-Rutherford. "Secondly, we looked very closely at Medicaid dollars. Remember, every dollar we put back in Medicaid, we're gaining $3 federal (funding)."

About $50 million in cuts to the Department of Correction would be restored under the proposed budget, and other money given back to justice and public safety programs would keep 179 positions in the Administrative Office of Courts and 155 positions that support district attorneys statewide.

More than $38 million would be put back into a reserve fund for severance payments.

House Republicans like neither deep spending cuts nor the taxes and have said the $4 billion-plus budget gap for next year is exaggerated.


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  • jplace Jun 12, 2009

    I think that it is interesting how anti-revenue folks continue to rail against our policy-makers, never making any constructive suggestions beyond cutting more programs. I have not heard a single example of a so-called wasteful program. The impact of tax increases on individuals will be minor, so get over it and start thinking about the greater good.

  • jenniehancockjobs Jun 11, 2009

    A quick lesson in economics for all out there who are crying foul at tax/revenue increases to maintain services and education in North Carolina. Like it or not the State of North Carolina is the largest employer in the state, larger probably than all the major companies in the state put together. Add in all the teachers, service providers, contractors, county employees, etc. who are paid through the dollars that flow through the state and this is the straw that can drive North Carolina into a depression! The impact will be the same as if in North Carolina if on July 1, 2009 thirty percent of ALL corporations in the state shut their doors. That is what you are asking for if the state makes all the cuts proposed.

  • jenniehancockjobs Jun 11, 2009

    Here is the economics plain and simple, well as simple as it can be. The proposed cuts will result in approximately 8,100 state employees and teachers losing their jobs directly. The cuts in services through the Department of Health and Human services will further result in approximately 15,000 people losing their jobs who are workers for the companies providing the services being cut. Thus approximately 23,000 unemployed being added to the unemployment roles. All of those people will qualify to draw unemployment from the unemployment fund which is already borrowing to pay benefits to those currently unemployed. These 23,000 taxpayers will now be paying no, or little

  • jenniehancockjobs Jun 11, 2009

    The 23,000 will have no health insurance and thus drive the cost of health care for those who do have insurance through the roof. Those 23,000 will not be able to afford their mortgages therefore driving down the value of you homes further than they already are. Those 23,000 will have children who qualify for free lunches and other state and federal programs. Those who do not find a job prior to their unemployment running out will qualify for public assistance. Cuts in human services and education will result in more people committing crimes and thus more people in prison, thus more money to be spent on corrections! The snowball keeps rolling.

    Furthermore, for every dollar the state fails to put into federal supported programs North Carolina’s economic base will lose up to four dollars because the match is required to pull that federal money into North Carolina. As bad as you think it is now it is nothing compared to what it will be in the next two years!

    I don’t like big

  • lboyd Jun 11, 2009

    What a state to live in. I found out yesterday that the legislators are trying to charge a fee for a law enforcement officer to keep his/her certification. The fee would be $250 for the initial fee and $100 per year afterward. Also Criminal Justice Instructors would have to pay a fee to keep their teaching certificates. This would be $25 per year. Wow, you have to pay to keep your job. I wonder if the legislators would have to pay a fee to sit in Raleigh and think up all this stuff.

    There was also a news piece yesterday about building a new 4 lane on US 17 in Jones County.

  • 1carpe Jun 11, 2009

    teacher56 posted:

    "Most Republicans are wealthy and don't want to be taxed or spend money unless they want to fulfill a selfish need like a beach home, a yacht, a Ivy League education for their spoiled darlings, etc." What really scares me more than anything is this "teacher" is most likely teaching this drivel to students. Teacher 56, I am a Conservative, I do not own a yacht. My wife and I are both retired military, we both work full time but we darn sure cannot afford yachts. I do have a 16 foot aluminum boat if that counts. Over 85% of the military is Republican, go tell a military family how rich they are. You, your views on life, and your party of socialists are sick people who need some serious help. You need to be out of the classroom.

  • Bendal1 Jun 11, 2009

    All of you whining that this is a "typical Democrat tactic", where they warn "needed programs will be cut" until the outcry is so big that they have to raise taxes, need to get a grip.

    The tax increase isn't going to do anything but provide a small reduction in the budget cuts; $720 million more revenue vs $4 BILLION in cuts. All you Republican wannabees will get plenty of government cuts to satisfy yourselves with.

  • whatelseisnew Jun 10, 2009

    I have to wonder why someone thinks most Republicans are wealthy and do not want to pay for anything. Guess they don't get out much and actually talk to people. I know Reps, Dems and Independents. None of them are wealthy. None of them agree on how tax money should be spent or how high taxes need to be in all aspects of on what and how much is spent.

  • whatelseisnew Jun 10, 2009

    protestthis - yeah I know, once a program gets in they never ever die. However, our day of reckoning is coming. The politicians have painted all of us into a corner. The number of programs that exist and the cost of those programs can not be sustained. As a Nation we are worst than broke. Many States are broke. N.C. is heading down that path because they will not get serious about the budget and they keep putting us further into debt. It has always been laughable to me that they claim a balanced budget. When you spend every penny coming in and then borrow more to spend, you are not working with a balanced budget. A balanced budget would in fact have money left to get rid of all debt and not add more.

  • whatusay Jun 10, 2009

    It is amazing that some people here think that kids are not able to eat a meal before coming to school. What do they do on week-ends, or holidays, or during the summer when they are not in school. The only meal that should be served at school should be lunch, and that should be paid for by the parents, not tax payers. Parents should pay for their own school supplies, not the teachers. And don't tell me their parents can't afford it. If they can afford to have kids they can pay for them. And, the government helps those who are in need. Not the responsibility of the school. And, whoever heard of serving breakfast at school, before school begins????