@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

GOP leaders: Budget, charters 'moving forward'

Posted March 22, 2011 10:49 a.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2011 11:23 a.m. EDT

Legislative leaders said today they believe they’ll meet their goal of finishing the budget by early June.

At a joint press conference this morning, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger said they’re on target to send Governor Bev Perdue a finished spending plan “earlier than anyone can remember in a long session.”

Tillis and Berger agreed that, while the House’s budget will come out first according to custom, the Republican caucuses in the two chambers will likely have reached consensus on just about everything in it.

Reporters questioned the leaders about their claims of progress, since joint budget meetings so far this year have been presentations by staff, with no actual debates or votes yet on program areas or line items. Are the House and Senate budget leaders – the “big chairs” – writing the plan behind closed doors?

“No decisions have been made at this point.” Tillis said. “We’re not doing it the way [Democrats] have done it.”

But, Berger added, “We’re getting very close to the point where decisions will be made, and those decisions will be made at the subcommittee level, in public meetings.”

Tillis also said charter school reform, S8, won't be heard in House Education this week because Republican sponsors are "making progress in discussions" with Democrats and the Governor's office. Tillis says the sponsors are working to address Democrats' concerns. He says he's hopeful it'll be "truly a bipartisan bill" when it reappears on the House calendar. 

But two other big bills might see action this week: Tillis says the voter ID bill, H351, could move out of House Elections after Wednesday's meeting. And Berger's hoping the Senate's medical malpractice bill, S33, will reach the House floor later this week.    

Watch the whole press conference here: