McCrory seeks budget tweaks, jobs bills

Gov. Pat McCrory is hopeful that legislators returning to Jones Street will send him two key measures before they adjourn until November.

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Laura Leslie
RALEIGH, N.C. — As legislators return to Jones Street to try to agree on an adjournment resolution, it appears there's no consensus – and not much communication – about what each chamber hopes to achieve Thursday night and Friday. 

A push to revive the failed proposal for a coal ash cleanup plan appears to be dead for the time being. Legislators involved with the negotiations said they were still working on compromise language as recently as last week, but Senate leaders have remained firmly opposed to taking up the bill before the November election.

Speaking to reporters at a Durham event Thursday morning, Gov. Pat McCrory said he's still hopeful lawmakers will iron out a compromise on a package of economic development changes.

The Senate bill contains measures involving crowdfunding, the Job Development Investment Grant program and a new cash grant program, the Job Catalyst Fund, requested by the governor on behalf of the Department of Commerce. But it also includes language limiting several urban counties' ability to raise sales taxes for transit needs. 

House leaders were less than enthusiastic about the proposal, but McCrory is optimistic a deal could still be struck. 

"My biggest request is to get the economic development bill out, and if we get that bill out, then I think it’s time for them to go home," he said with a smile. 

The governor is also hoping they will send him a budget technical corrections bill.

"I think there’s some minor technical revisions that need to also be made," he added. "Hopefully, those decisions will be made within the next 24 to 48 hours, and I’m in conversations with both Senate and House leadership on that." 

One tweak rumored to be under consideration would change the language providing funds for teaching assistants.

McCrory has repeatedly said he was willing to sign the budget because it did not cut any teaching assistants. But since then, one school system after another has warned cuts to assistants will be necessary. 

The governor said those warnings are being misinterpreted. 

"At the end of the legislative session, if they had teacher assistants in place, in positions, they should all be rehired based upon our budget. If they were vacant or they were using that money for other reasons, you cannot then call that a cut because they weren’t using the money for teachers assistants," McCrory said.

"Some of the misinterpretation was that we did have some school districts using the money for teacher assistants for other reasons, and that’s where the difference – you’re going to have to listen to the wording very closely," he said.


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