State News

N.C. Republicans join in support for budget bill

Posted June 5, 2008 5:48 a.m. EDT
Updated June 5, 2008 10:03 a.m. EDT

@NCCapitol

— Democratic House Speaker Joe Hackney says he's not surprised the chamber is giving broad bipartisan support to its budget bill for the coming year.

The House scheduled the second of two required votes Thursday on a $21.3 billion spending plan. On Wednesday, a majority of Republicans in the House joined with Democrats in passing the bill by a vote of 102-12.

Hackney says the budget works to keep the state's fiscal house in order while the economy is slowing down. The plan increases government spending by a little more than 3 percent. That's only one-third of the increases in the last two budget laws.

"We just did not have the funds with which to do (things), and we could not do it without raising taxes to a great extent," Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, who is the senior co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said as the debate began. "Our conservative budgeting has worked well."

Republican Rep. Nelson Dollar says he supported the measure because it doesn't raise taxes and starts the phase-out of an annual $172 million transfer from a dedicated transportation fund.

"There are good things in the budget that can be supported by both sides," said House Minority Whip Bill McGee, R-Forsyth, adding that he would vote for the budget. "The overall (growth) rate this year is acceptable. It's less than the cost of living."

The person most unhappy with the spending plan may have been Gov. Mike Easley, who said Tuesday that House Democrats were "stiffing the teachers" by failing to support his proposal to raise their average salaries by nearly 7 percent.