NC House leader: Lawmakers reach budget deal, set to unveil specifics on Tuesday

North Carolina Republican House Speaker Tim Moore on Monday announced that a budget compromise between his chamber and the Senate has been reached.

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Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers are closing in on a budget deal and plan to unveil the specifics of the compromise between the House and Senate on Tuesday, according to Republican state House Speaker Tim Moore.

“A budget deal has been reached between the Senate and House,” Moore announced on the chamber floor Monday afternoon.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger’s office said shortly before Moore spoke that “a budget has not been finalized” and that “discussions are ongoing.”

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper hasn’t yet taken a position on the budget.

“The governor is having discussions with House and Senate leaders about budget and health care issues,” said Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper.

Berger, Moore and Cooper met this weekend, according to Moore’s office.

Lawmakers this year have expressed interest in a number of policy priorities, including Medicaid expansion, medical marijuana legalization and online sports betting. But such efforts have stalled.
North Carolina is one of a dozen states that has thus far declined to expand Medicaid, causing the state to miss out on billions in federal tax dollars to provide health insurance to about 600,000 low-income residents. Both the House and Senate released bills to expand Medicaid, but their proposals differ widely, with the Senate proposal being more sweeping.

The House version unveiled last week would require an additional vote in December to actually expand Medicaid, which Berger shot down.

The Raleigh Chamber, the Triangle’s largest business membership organization, is among those calling for lawmakers to expand Medicaid.

“The Raleigh Chamber understands the importance of high-quality affordable healthcare and calls for expanded Medicaid access across the state,” Adrienne Cole, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We thank our elected officials who have already taken action to expand coverage and urge swift action from the General Assembly to achieve this goal.”

Other measures remain unresolved.

The Senate passed a bill legalizing medical marijuana for residents with any of more than a dozen qualifying debilitating conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. But the measure has been a nonstarter for Moore, who personally opposes the plan and has said it lacks the votes needed to clear his chamber.
Meanwhile, the House and Senate are fighting over hemp, which would become illegal if the two sides don’t strike a deal before the temporary legalization of marijuana’s nonintoxicating cousin expires on Thursday.
Efforts to legalize online sports gambling in the state have also deteriorated.

A watered-down version of Senate Bill 38 got initial approval in the House by one vote, its companion, Senate Bill 688, failed to pass, creating uncertainty over the measures’ fates because they were designed to work in tandem. If enacted, they would’ve legalized online and mobile sports gambling between 10 and 12 operators.

It’s unclear whether the budget will address any of the lingering impasses.

Moore said on Monday that he expects state lawmakers to hold budget votes on Friday and Saturday. He and Berger have said they’d aim to wrap up their legislative work for the year by early July.

WRAL State Government Reporter Travis Fain contributed to this story.