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House Budget Priorities Differ From Senate's

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RALEIGH — Small pieces of the proposed House budget are out, and it does not look much like the Senate's version. Once state lawmakers start haggling, state jobs and the price we pay for a lot of services will be up for debate.

Representatives say they heard a lot of complaints from their constituents when the Senate budget came out. They say their budget rights a few wrongs by cutting bureaucracy and not raising taxes.

State lawmakers are in for a long, hot summer of heated budget debates.

Gregg Thompson, R-Mitchell County, says the biggest difference is that the House version does not cut $73 million for Health and Human Services like the Senate's does.

"The house version is totally different from the Senate. We have restored funding to Health and Human Services. We will not close Dorothea Dix or the schools for the deaf. We will restore money to the Department of Public Instruction for education, and do it all without tax increases," says Thompson.

"After people saw the Senate budget and responded about what the senate did, we have tried to make corrections and set priorities too," says David Redwine, D-Brunswick County.

Redwine says the House priorities are to keep services for children and people with disabilities, and to make cuts in other state departments, but he did not get specific. House members also plan to crack down on tax collections. But can they come to terms with the Senate?

"That I guess is the $14 billion question now," says Thompson.

"There will be major differences and tough negotiating. We always manage to work it out in the end, to get through it and resolve our differences," says Redwine.

The House will unveil its version of the budget tomorrow. The full House is slated to vote on it next Wednesday. Then the negotiations with the Senate begin.

There is almost no chance they will come to an agreement before the end of the fiscal year, July 1. So chances are they will have to pass a continuing resolution to keep the state government going while they hash our their differences.


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