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Senate unveils proposed spending plan

Posted May 19, 2013
Updated May 20, 2013

Money generic, dollars

— Senate leaders released a $20.6 billion budget Sunday night that would put in place many policy proposals the chamber's leaders have pushed throughout the session, including a plan to end career status for teachers. 

The Senate spends slightly less than Gov. Pat McCrory's plan, setting aside more than $217 million to pay for an anticipated tax reform effort.

“This budget stands in sharp contrast to the failed attempts of previous leaders to tax, spend and borrow their way to prosperity," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said in a news release Sunday night. The release outlined what Senators see as the highlights of their plan.

For example, Senate leaders say their $20.6 billion budget proposal "fully funds enrollment growth in K-12, community colleges and the university system." However, tables provided with the news release and in the budget documents themselves show overall education spending dropping when compared with the current year.

The Senate release included a table comparing the top-line numbers of the Senate budget with Gov. Pat McCrory's budget. After 10 p.m., the legislature posted the budget bill and associated money report on its website.

The Senate budget does include some priorities outlined by McCrory this spring. For example, the Senate follows McCrory's lead on giving the governor and his Information Systems Director oversight over new computer systems bought by state agencies. Also, the Senate would eliminate public "check off" funds that currently go to political parties.

However, the Senate appears to have ignored other McCrory requests, such as paying for drug treatment courts and funding compensation for victims of the state's eugenics program.

Senate plan cuts Medicaid 

Among the biggest moves in the state budget are planned adjustments to Medicaid, the state-sponsored health insurance program for the poor and disabled. The program has been a thorn in the side of budget-writers, with annual surprise cost overruns. 

While the budget proposal adds money to Medicaid overall to accommodate growth in the program, it also proposes some major cuts in program services to control costs.

Berger's news release describes Medicaid as "a runaway federal entitlement program that is diverting funds away from priorities like education, transportation and our judicial system." His chamber's budget paves the way for an effort to privatize the state program, something the governor is already studying. 

The Senate budget moves slightly increase state money for Community Care of North Carolina, the state's nationally acclaimed Medicaid management program. Top McCrory administration officials have said they expect CCNC to be part of the set of private managed care entities that take over care for the patients . 

Among the other proposed changes the Senate budget would make to Medicaid and health services are: 

  • cuts covered doctor visits on Medicaid from 22 to 10 per year, except for the chronically ill
  • raises co-pays for services
  • cuts private nursing services by $5 million
  • cuts mental health drugs by $5 million
  • cuts aids drug assistance by 25 percent, or $2 million. The budget also contains a provisions that would direct the state prisons to seek to use AIDS Drug Assistance Program funding to pay for HIV drugs for those in the state prison system. 
  • closes the state's three alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, saving $37 million. In turn, the budget sets aside $10 million to pay for drug treatment services provided through regional mental health care agencies.

Also in the Health and Human Services arena, the Senate budget includes a controversial provision that would require applicants for certain welfare programs to undergo drug testing. 

In contrast to McCrory's proposal to add seats to NC Pre-K, the Senate budget would reduce Pre-K seats but add more funding for subsidized child care.

Education and other policy moves

The Senate budget also includes most aspects of the Senate's education reform plan that Berger rolled out earlier this year.

Those changes include removing career status, what some call tenure, for teachers in the public school system. Rather, teachers would be placed on contracts ranging from one to three years. 

Senate budget-writers also included a provision that would remove class-size caps in elementary school grades.

Senate leaders also want to move the State Bureau of Investigation from the Attorney General's Office to the state Department of Public Safety. Attorney General Roy Cooper opposes the move.

164 Comments

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  • lifeq May 20, 4:00 p.m.

    junkmail5....
    http://www.healthofnations.com/ratings/overall/outcomes/asc

    The best outcomes by country goes:

    Austalia, Canada, Finland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, Chile, France, Germany, Greece, Luxenbourg, Netherlands, NZ, Norway, Portgual, Argentina, Belguim, Columbia, Denmark, Ireland, Mexico, South Korea, UK... and THEN the US.

    That's 29th for the US.

    yet we spend WAY more than any of those countries _and_ cover less of our population.

    ++++++++++++
    Well all these countries have National Health Care for all of its citizen supported by Taxes like our National Defense. So no bills when you go to see a doctor, hospital, specialist etc ever.

    When Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC alone made over 25 Million profit last year 2012 (after paying for all their expenses). Who do you think is paying for this profit ?. There is a reason why Insurance companies via Republicans will do everything in their power to stop Obamac

  • oldaltar May 20, 3:59 p.m.

    Terkel

    The only thing I think is nonsense is that what motivates some Repubs is that they hate the fact that an African American is in the White House. How dare someone who was raised by his single white grandmother rise to the highest office in the land over a decorated war hero from Vietnam who shed his blood for America and Mr. Plutocrat Romney? Barack Obama shed as much blood and just as much an American as he carried the hopes and dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, Medgar Evers, and all of those nameless African Americans and whites who have died for equal rights and gave their lives for their cause. You are not ready for the truth because you cannot handle the truth. I see right through you. Come correct my brother or don't come at all.

  • Bartmeister May 20, 3:49 p.m.

    Well the grass is always greener really applies here. One of my close friend's brother in law is an electrician in Canada. He says the healthcare system up there blows chunks. 2 months to schedule a doctor's appointment, shuffled here and there like cattle, etc. Who knows what they really want? I'm not sure anyone does.

  • oldaltar May 20, 3:42 p.m.

    Is your nonsense about "you all know, in your heart, why everyone hates 0bama" the best YOU'VE got?

    The truth is all I need. Is you conscious bothering you? If it is then change your heart and start loving and stop hating.

  • Plenty Coups May 20, 3:32 p.m.

    "and unlike you, I'll even provide proof :)
    http://www.healthofnations.com/countries/map/outcomes"

    Don't expect Dnut to provide proof. Just keep repeating the GOP mantra that evryone comes here for their helathcare. Funny thing is, is that northern cities aren't overrun with Canadians. In fact the reverse is true w/ Canadians requiring ID cards to get their healthcare after so many Americans were going THERE!

  • Bartmeister May 20, 3:21 p.m.

    If walk like a duck, quack like a duck, it is a duck.

    =======================================

    Opinions are like.....................................

  • antoniowillia20 May 20, 3:18 p.m.

    lrfarms27572
    It has gone from bad to worse. How many times must we read statements made in ignorance to see it for what it is. People who worked all their lives and should be enjoying their retirement are being forced back to work so that they can afford to eat. Cost of living grows but the retirement check is static. Meanwhile those who we vote to lead get a raise.

  • oldaltar May 20, 3:10 p.m.

    So you're saying because of his skin color or his bad cabinet decisions, he has been opposed by the Republicans?

    When George W. Bush proposed increasing spending and increasing the size of government in the name of security, these same Repubs voted overwhelmingly for it. Now, when Obama is trying to do the same thing, they are against it. What's the difference between foreign terrorists who threaten American lives with bombs and planes and domestic terrorists who threaten American lives by denying helpless people medical treatment? Osama bin Laden and insurance companies are one and the same, it's just that Repubs refuse to admit the facts that both have cost American lives and livelihoods dearly for the past ten years. You can called it what you want. If walk like a duck, quack like a duck, it is a duck. The truth hurts but it sets you free.

  • Terkel May 20, 3:07 p.m.

    "Have you heard of a little company called MetLife?

    Like I said where are all the jobs they said they would bring. Is that the best you got." oldaltar

    The jobs show up on their website, on BILLBOARDS, and on any Internet search you care to make. There are hundreds of them. I dare you to look.

    Is your nonsense about "you all know, in your heart, why everyone hates 0bama" the best YOU'VE got?

  • Bartmeister May 20, 2:37 p.m.

    President Obama has tries to push jobs. However the goal of his political enemies, for what ever reason and you know why in you heart, has oppose him at every turn. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand why that dislike him. oldaltar

    ==============================================

    So you're saying because of his skin color or his bad cabinet decisions, he has been opposed by the Republicans? I think you could attribute skin color to a portion of the population, but then I just wanna say that the race card is being played again and again. Bottom line, 5 years in and the unemployment is not much better than before.

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