Raleigh, N.C. — As House and Senate leaders begin to work on a compromise budget for 2015-16, a miniature plastic Christmas tree appeared in the Senate chamber Thursday, hinting at how long the General Assembly may be in session under a deal can be struck.
With less than a week before the new fiscal year begins, lawmakers can't even agree on a continuing resolution to keep state agencies operating until a permanent budget is adopted. House members want a longer CR than Senate leaders, but neither side is willing to budge on issues such as funding for teachers and teaching assistants.
The House Finance Committee also heard Thursday from various groups, from nonprofits to private universities to cities, griping about the tax proposals included in the Senate budget.
One of the major sticking points in the budget negotiations – whenever they do start – is likely to be Medicaid reform, which the Senate wants to roll into the budget but the House wants to handle separately.
The notion of expanding Medicaid to accommodate more people under the Affordable Care Act resurfaced after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of federal subsidies for North Carolinians and others who purchased insurance on HealthCare.gov. Gov. Pat McCrory said he is still looking into a possible expansion, but legislative leaders quickly scotched that idea.