Eliminating ferry tolls among changes in House budget proposals
The House will roll out its full budget next week. Subcommittees are considering provisions that make minor changes, such as redirecting money for a failed water cleanup program back to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund.Posted — Updated
The House's full budget proposal won't roll out until next week. That's the document that will contain provisions such as pay raises for state employees.
Lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2015. The spending plan rolling out now makes nips and tucks to that budget, but the items available so far don't represent a sweeping revision.
Among the more notable provisions are the following:
- House lawmakers would change how the A-through-F letter grades are assigned to schools. Currently, 80 percent of that score is based on the scores students achieve on standardized tests, with the remaining 20 percent based on growth – how much a student learns during the year. This calculation has been problematic for schools with large underprivileged populations. Even though students at those schools may learn more than a grade-level's worth of material during the year, their test scores can still be lower than on grade level.
- House budget writers would eliminate tolls on all existing ferry routes. That change would cost the state $13 million per year.
Natural and Economic Resources
- Money left over from the failed SolarBee project in Jordan Lake will revert to the state's Clean Water Management Trust fund. The state Department of Environmental Quality recently pulled the plug on the experiment, which used solar-powered mixers to stir water in the lake in an effort to reduce algal blooms.
- The House budget sets aside $7.5 million for Forsyth County to support the consolidation of the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem and SciWorks into a single building.
- The Department of Insurance would receive three new customer care staffers under the House budget, as well as three new fraud investigators.
- House members want to set aside $425,000 to put the state's building code online.
- The state's Human Relations Commission would be restored to full, regular funding with about $545,407. This item came up during the debate over House Bill 2, which deals with the use of bathrooms by transgender individuals and set statewide nondiscrimination policy. That law sends discrimination complaints to the Human Relations Commission, but many critics of the legislation noted that the commission was under a continuation review and at some risk of losing its funding.
Justice and Public Safety
- Provides $350,000 to replace outdated radios used by the Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement.
- Provides a combined $1.3 million to equip and begin operations of the new Western Crime Lab in Edneyville and provides $640,000 to update equipment at the central crime lab in Raleigh.
- Provides $250,000 to digitize mental health records. That will allow local court clerks to comply with requirements to report those with certain disabilities to a nation databases used to authorize firearms purchases.