Raleigh, N.C. — Budget negotiations featured everything from finger-pointing, a walkout and a Christmas wreath before the House and Senate negotiators finally reached a slight breakthrough.
Senate negotiators walked out of a public conference committee meeting after House members brought school officials to discuss the importance of the teaching assistants who would be cut under the Senate budget. Senators later returned and accused House negotiators of not making any real concessions as the two sides try to reach a compromise spending plan.
Gov. Pat McCrory said he was disappointed with the Senate's actions, noting lawmakers need to listen to the people affected by their decisions.
When negotiators returned in the afternoon, the meeting room was decorated for Christmas, with lights and ornaments, and Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, even handed out lumps of coal to indicate that both sides were content to dig in their heels and negotiate until the holidays if necessary.
House members finally conceded that lottery revenue projections were overstated, moving closer to the Senate's position on the revenue figure. That prompted both sides to meet individually to come up with other areas to negotiate.