Raleigh, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Friday, June 14. This is WRAL's roundup of what you need to know about North Carolina state government today.
FRIDAY'S CALENDAR: There are no legislative committee meetings or floor sessions scheduled for Friday.
NEXT WEEK: The budget passed by the House is on the Senate calendar for Monday night. It is more than likely the Senate will vote not to concur with the House spending plan and trigger the formal conference committee process to negotiate a compromise bill. Meanwhile, the Senate is due to take a final vote on its tax reform plan on Tuesday. House leaders say they expect that bill to head to conference as well.
The Wrap @NCCapitol (June 13) Meanwhile, the legislative week ended on Thursday with thunderstorms ripping through the Raleigh area, reflecting the debates over budget and tax bills that raged this week.
TAXES: The state Senate has tentatively approved Thursday a tax reform bill that lowers personal and corporate income tax rates, with boosters saying it will create jobs and critics saying it will drain too much money from state government.
After more than two hours of debate, the Senate voted 30-17 in favor of the measure. A second vote to confirm passage is scheduled for Tuesday, at which point the measure will return to the House. Already, House leaders say they expect to have to negotiate a final version of the bill.
"Passing this bill will create jobs," said Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, the top leader in the Senate.
Liberal critics of the measure says it shifts the tax burden from big corporations and wealthy individuals to lower income families and small businesses.
RUCHO: Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Rucho lambasted the plan as deviating from the core principles needed to accomplish actual tax reform. In particular, he said the Berger bill did not go far enough to close loopholes that favor certain industries or individuals.
In December, Rucho warned that the effort could "turn into the Lobbyist Full-Employment Act."
Rucho said Thursday that prediction had apparently come true.
"It seems like the special interests got in the way, and that's a shame because they're causing everybody's taxes to go up," he said. In his letter, Rucho placed that blame squarely at the feet of House Speaker Thom Tillis and Gov. Pat McCrory.
"It is a huge disappointment that the Governor and the Speaker of the House did not provide the leadership or have the political backbone to fight the special-interest groups, who favor loopholes over a fair tax system," Rucho wrote.
House approves $20.6B spending plan BUDGET: The state budget is headed back to the Senate for negotiations after winning its final House vote Thursday, 77-40.
"This is a commonsense budget. It meets the needs of our citizens," said Senior Appropriations Committee Chairman Nelson Dollar.
"I think it sends the message that the state has to live within its means, just like each and every one of us have to live within our means," added Rep. Allen McNeill, R-Randolph.
Democratic critics say the plan underfunds vital programs in education, health and economic development in order to pay for a tax break that will disproportionately benefit the wealthiest people in the state.
GUNS: The state Senate has voted a second time to approve a bill that makes dozens of changes to the state's firearms laws. The bill now returns to the House for a concurrence vote.
POLICE RECORDS: Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law Wednesday a measure that opens the records of campus police that serve private or nonprofit universities.
ELEVATORS: Two divisions of the state Department of Labor aren't properly collecting fines for violations of labor laws and for malfunctioning elevators, according to an audit released Thursday. The Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau performed follow-up inspections on only 3 percent of the elevators where violations were found, ranging from a dirty pit to more serious issues such as non-working phones or fire-service buttons, the audit states.
TRANSPORTATION: A new transportation funding model intended to direct more money to higher-impact projects in North Carolina has been tentatively approved by the state Senate.
LENDERS: Records show a group of consumer finance providers spent more than $1.8 million to hire at least 20 lobbyists and steer campaign contributions to North Carolina lawmakers to win passage of a bill raising the maximum interest rates they can charge borrowers.