Raleigh, N.C. — Lawmakers left Raleigh a week ago, leaving in their wake a slew of "technical" corrections to the $23 billion state budget and pending layoffs in the Attorney General's Office while opening a loophole that allows them to accept campaign donations with legislation still awaiting them when they return in August.
Among the 15 pages of budget corrections, Caldwell County lost $100,000 for a bookmobile – Democrats openly criticized that earmark during budget negotiations – and the $1.5 million the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences was to get to upgrade its dinosaur exhibit was cut to $200,000.
Meanwhile, a 30-day clock has started on dozens of lawyers in the Attorney General's Office before they are laid off because of a funding cut in the budget.
Also, because the General Assembly is now in recess for five weeks, the ban on collecting campaign contributions during session is suspended, meaning lawmakers can accept checks from PACs and others who might have an interest in any of the dozen bills that could be voted on when the legislature reconvenes in early August. Good-government advocates say that campaign finance loophole needs to be closed.