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Budget update: No Medicaid expansion, but higher raises in latest legislative proposal, speaker says

Posted October 20, 2021 5:11 p.m. EDT
Updated October 20, 2021 5:38 p.m. EDT

State budget

— There's no Medicaid expansion in the budget proposal legislative leaders sent Gov. Roy Cooper this week, House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed Wednesday.

That's not a surprise – the Republican legislative majority has blocked Cooper's expansion plans for several years running. But there have been indications lately that Senate Republicans, once the key block against expansion, have softened on the issue and that House Republicans, amenable in recent years to a compromise plan, are against including it in this months-overdue spending plan.

"Throwing Medicaid expansion in the budget at the very end, that’s never been acceptable, and that’s not acceptable," House Majority Leader John Bell said earlier this month.

The state hasn't had a full budget since 2018 because Cooper has vetoed Republican-backed proposals, delaying teacher raises and other priorities, partly over expansion of the taxpayer-funded health insurance program.

This year, both sides are hopeful they'll strike a deal, and both sides have insisted on confidentiality as they hash it out, saying it allows for frank negotiations. WRAL News and other media outlets filed open records requests this week, seeking each side's latest budget proposal.

Moore, R-Cleveland, said there won't be anything in the final budget that wasn't included either in the House budget, the Senate budget or Cooper's budget, all of which are public. Figures will change, Moore said, but there won't be anything "that you would say, 'Where did this come from?'"

Moore also told reporters:

  • Lawmakers have gone up a bit on the employee raises they're willing to approve, though it wasn't clear just what that means when compared with the Senate's low-ball proposal, the House's higher proposal or the governor's proposal, which was the highest of the three.
  • Republicans are sticking with their support for tax cuts in the budget.
  • Negotiation details have been shared with the handful of House Democrats who voted for the House version of the budget.

As for timing on budget votes, Moore said, "We should be getting close."

"We're either getting to the point of having a compromise with the governor or simply proceeding with a legislative budget," he said.

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