Raleigh, N.C. — The final budget deal released just before midnight Monday contains an array of special provisions, some of which weren't included in either the House or the Senate budget proposals.
In the past, the standard for final budget provisions has been that they had to have been included in one of the two earlier legislative plans. But that rule was often more honored in the breach, as it appears to be in this year's $23 billion spending plan.
In some cases, the new provisions in the budget, Senate Bill 257, are the contents of bills that have not yet made it through the legislative process. Lumping them into the budget is an easy way to ensure their passage as the session nears its end. These include tweaks to the requirement that insurers cover adaptive behavior therapy for autism, changes to the state's gang prevention law, changes in the definition of search and rescue teams and a measure spelling out the extent (and limits) of mutual aid between campus or other company police forces and public law enforcement agencies.
Other provisions seem to have emerged from a legislative vacuum:
- The House speaker and the Senate president pro tem could request a State Highway Patrol security detail while traveling within the state on state business.
- The Division of Adult Corrections would be required to report to lawmakers on the number of prison personnel charged with crimes on the job in the past five years, the number of employees disciplined, the agency's hiring process and background checks and the effectiveness of efforts to prevent contraband.
- Esophageal cancer would be added as an occupational disease for which firefighters can receive line-of-duty death benefits.
- The Department of Transportation would have to give $100,000 in 2017 and again in 2018 to the small Richmond County town of Ellerbe to establish a rest stop on U.S. Highway 220.
- If the DOT decides to sell the property that used to be the Linwood Springs Golf Course, purchased in 2011 for the Garden Parkway project that never materialized, the city of Gastonia would get the right of first refusal.
Meantime, other provisions in the final deal are issues WRAL News has already reported on:
- $1 million would go to implement a required algaecide trial in Jordan Lake, even though the Department of Environmental Quality already opted not to pursue the trial.
- Changes to qualifying experience that would provide salary boosts to judges connected to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger
- An attempt to restrict the authority of state Alcohol Law Enforcement and county Alcoholic Beverage Control agents appears to have been scaled back dramatically.
The Senate is scheduled to hold its first of two required votes on the final deal Tuesday afternoon, while the House will vote either Wednesday or Thursday.