Today @NCCapitol (7/28): White smoke rises over Jones Street
Posted July 28, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Monday, July 28. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government.
DEAL: Nearly a month after the new fiscal year began on July 1, House and Senate budget negotiators said they had reached agreement Saturday on the outlines of a budget deal.
Budget writers reach agreement on framework Although details were yet to be worked out, top negotiators said that the $21 billion budget would offer 7 percent average raises to teachers while preserving teaching assistant positions in lower grades. Medicaid spending will be cut by $135 million, but it's unclear where those cuts will come from.
It appears work on the subcommittee budget continued on Sunday. Rep. Chuck McGrady, one of the lead education budget writers in the House, used Twitter to announce,"Ed. appropriators have completed our work; senior appropriations can weave budget parts together. Expect a vote soon, maybe this week," on Sunday afternoon.
Leaders in both chambers said they expected a completed budget to be made public early in the week, in time for votes on Thursday and Friday if all goes as planned.
VETO: It is unclear how Gov. Pat McCrory will react to the budget deal. Although he expressed frustration with the slow pace of negotiations Friday – and is a Republican like both the majority of Senators and House members – the governor has had his differences with the legislature, particularly the Senate.
In particular, he threatened to veto any budget that raised teacher pay more than 6 percent at the expense of Medicaid eligibility cuts.
Several people involved in the budget negotiations indicated that McCrory's budget team was not part of the group that crafted the compromise plan over the weekend.
REVENUE: A new report by fiscal staffers indicated that tax collections had not grown as quickly as anticipated after a new tax reform measure was put in place last year.
According to a memo Thursday from legislative analyst Brian Slivka and chief economist Barry Boardman, the updated cost of the tax cut is $680 million for the current tax year. That's $205 million, or 43 percent, higher than the original projection of $475 million.
The tax year begins Jan. 1, and the state fiscal year begins July 1, so the new numbers' impact on the current year budget are muted.
THE HOUSE CALENDAR: The state House is due to meet for a no-vote skeleton session at 4 p.m. The only committee meeting scheduled so far this week is a Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday morning.
THE SENATE CALENDAR: The state Senate will have a no-vote skeleton session at 9:30 a.m. but is expected to hold votes starting at 6 p.m. Measures on the Senate calendar Monday night include a final vote on the Senate's version of long-term Medicaid reform and this year's omnibus farm bill.
WILL SINE DIE?: If a budget deal is really sown up, it is possible the General Assembly could take a run at adjourning this week. Although the budget and a measure providing for the cleanup of coal ash ponds are the only two "must do" items in many lawmakers' estimation, there are a number of high-profile bills that could jockey for position in a push toward adjournment. They include the following:
- Medicaid reform. The House and Senate disagree on the best way to ensure the fiscal health of the insurance system for the poor and disabled. It's unlikely the House will simply accept the Medicaid reform bill Senators are scheduled to send to the House Monday night.
- Coal ash. Lawmakers are trying to bridge the differences on a plan to clean up coal ash ponds throughout the state, such as the one that spilled into the Dan River on Feb. 2. A Senate version of the plan would prescribe tighter deadlines than called for by the House.
- Taxes and economic development. The Senate has sent the House a measure that would cap what local governments could charge in sales tax as well as boost a number of state-run economic development efforts. The House has yet to formally review the measure.
- Mopeds. A bill from the state House would require moped owners to register their vehicles. Senators went a step further and passed a bill to require moped riders to carry insurance.
- Film incentives. The state's program to attract television and movie productions expires at the end of the year. The governor, Senate and House all have put forward plans to help keep the industry here, but it's unclear what the final plan might be.
- Regulatory reform. Both the House and Senate have passed different regulatory reform measures, and both have signaled that they find the other chamber's bills unacceptable.
ON THE RECORD: WRAL's David Crabtree sits down with Jill Staton Bullard, chief executive and co-founder of the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, for a half-hour discussion on the root causes of hunger and stories of what hunger looks like in North Carolina.
CHARTERS: Changes to the state's charter school laws are headed to the governor's desk – without a section banning discrimination against gay and lesbian children and families. Critics of Senate Bill 793 also warned it could leave the door open for nepotism and corruption by leaders of for-profit charter schools.
HEALTH: The state House has saved for the time being the Child Fatality Task Force, a study group credited with lowering the childhood mortality rate in North Carolina by 32 percent of the past three decades. A measure killing the commission on June 30, 2015, was included in the technical corrections bill, a 55-plus-page measure that covers dozens of topics. Although the bill mainly concerns itself with fixing statutory references and cleaning up drafting errors in state law, it also contains substantive measures such as the task force elimination.