McCrory's budget: Picking three fights
Posted March 20, 2013 2:01 p.m. EDT
Updated March 20, 2013 3:34 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory gave his fellow Republicans at the General Assembly much to like. His emphasis on repairing state buildings, rebuilding state reserves, fixing information technology problems and holding the line on spending is in keeping with how Republican lawmakers have been talking.
However, he did include three proposals that may raise hackles in at least one chamber of the other:
$10 million to compensate victims of North Carolina's Eugenics Board program. House Speaker Thom Tillis supports this idea, and it was in last year's House budget. But Senators rejected the plan to compensate victims of the program. "There was no ability to develop consensus on one particular path forward," Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said of the eugenics bill when the final budget was crafted last year. The Senate has not signaled any change in its stance on the issue.
$390,000 to draw down Help America Vote Act funds. The federal government is holding $4 million that could help with election administration costs such as upgrading computers and software. Lawmakers considered drawing down the money before the 2012 election but declined to based on philosophical objections. "We continually get sucked into getting this federal money that comes with federal strings attached," House Elections Chairman David Lewis said after a key vote last year. "We need to quit trying to get a quick sugar high by taking federal funds here and there." It's unclear whether lawmakers are any more receptive to the idea this year, although they gave a similar rational for turning down expanded Medicaid funding.
$7.2 million for Drug Treatment Courts. McCrory mentioned funding for drug courts, which emphasize treatment over incarceration, in his State of the State address, and he said Wednesday that he would fight for the program. Lawmakers eliminated funding for drug courts during the 2011-12 legislative session. The problem, legislative leaders said, was that drug courts were available in some counties but not others.
Berger said Wednesday that, just because lawmakers have turned down something in the past, does not mean lawmakers will reject it out of hand.
"Everything in the governor's budget will get a look," Berger said.