Senate swats House 'plan B' budget

The Senate said a bid by House leaders and Gov. Pat McCrory to raise teacher salaries without passing a larger budget is a "political gimmick."

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NC Legislative Building
Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — So that would be a "no" then. 
Last week, members of the House voted to try to break a budget stalemate by sending over a slimmed-down spending plan that raised teacher salaries and addressed a few other key budget priorities. That "mini-budget" plan won the backing of Gov. Pat McCrory. 

But when Senate Bill 3 came to the Senate floor Monday night, senators stamped it "return to sender" without a vote or much debate.

"There are a number of problems with this latest political gimmick," Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, told his colleagues.

Apodaca then moved to return the measure to the House "for further consideration," a motion last used in 2005. It did not require a vote because no other senator objected.  

The Senate and House are at odds over a few key points of the budget. The deepest gap is over how much money each chamber thinks will be needed to pay for the Medicaid health insurance program for the poor and disabled. Senators say House members have been too rosy in their outlook. 

That skepticism extends to the mini-budget sent over as Senate Bill 3.

"It doesn't balance," Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said of the slimmed-down bill.

Brown said House and Senate budget negotiations were ongoing.

But the beginning of the state's new fiscal year is Tuesday. Without a revised budget in place, the state will continue to operate because lawmakers passed a two-year budget last year. 

Apodaca's motion is rarely used, and the refusal to even consider the measure is meant to send a message to the House, he said. 

"We're serious about getting a budget done, and it's time to stop playing games," Apodaca said.

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