Today @NCCapitol (7/31): The deal apparently is a deal

The $21.3 billion budget deal crafted by the House and the Senate became public late Wednesday night. Senators could vote on the plan as early as Thursday.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Good morning and welcome to Today @NCCapitol for Thursday, July 31. Here's what's going on at the legislature and around state government.
THE BUDGET: Formal drafts of the state budget bill and accompanying money report were published online Wednesday night. The state Senate is scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday and Friday. The state House is poised to vote on the bill Friday and Saturday.  
TEACHER PAY: Even before the budget bill came out, a document outlining how the proposed teacher pay raises would work circulated through the Legislative Building on Wednesday. 

Backers of the plan say it represents a big teacher pay raise and restructures the teacher pay system into six broad bands rather than 47 steps. Some teachers and the North Carolina Association of Educators were skeptical of the plan, saying it counted what has been "longevity pay" as part of the raise. Some teachers, they said, would have fared better under the old system than the new one. 

Republican lawmakers say it simplifies the pay scale and ensures everyone gets a raise, although many of the biggest bumps are given to teachers early in their careers. Those in the latter stages of their careers see some of the smallest percentage increases.  

MORE BUDGET: The budget bill contains hundreds of provisions. Among the most notable are the following: 
  • Transfers the State Bureau of Investigation from the Department of Justice, overseen by the attorney general, to the Department of Public Safety, overseen by the governor. 
  • Allows for the remote renewal of driver's licenses. 
  • Requires a third-party audit of the state pension fund. 
  • Calls for a special session in November to craft a Medicaid reform bill. 
  • Reduces the rates that will be paid to Medicaid providers by 1 percent, in addition to a 3 percent cut ordered during the 2013-14 budget year.  
CALENDAR: As the close of session nears, both the House and the Senate will hold stop-and-start floor sessions and call committee meetings on the fly. Here's what's on the calendar as of Thursday morning: 
House Rules (8:30 a.m. | 1228 LB): Five bills are on the calendar, two of which are measures sent back from Senate that are being reviewed for whether the House will vote to concur. The committee is also taking up the tax bill into which House Finance Committee members placed the historic rehabilitation tax credit sought by the McCrory administration.
Senate Rules (9 a.m. | 1027 LB): The committee has two bills on its calendar: an adjournment resolution and a bill appointing people to various state boards and commissions. 
House session (10 a.m. | House floor): Among the bills on the House calendar are the technical corrections bill as well as a conference report on the bill that will require owners to register their mopeds. The House is also expected to reject a measure that would curtail sales taxing authority for some of the biggest counties in the state and provide the McCrory administration with several new business recruitment tools.  
Senate session (10:15 a.m. | Senate floor): The Senate is scheduled to debate the budget bill. 
AUTISM: A bill that would require insurers to cover applied behavioral therapy for children with autism is likely dead for the year, according to the Senate's top leader. Asked if the autism bill would get a vote in his chamber, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, "I don't think so."
MCCRORY: Gov. Pat McCrory is scheduled to speak at the ribbon-cutting of an outlet mall near Charlotte. The governor canceled his planned trip to the ALEC convention in Texas so he could remain behind for last-minute budget negotiations. 
HISTORIC: The state would continue offering tax credits to owners who rehabilitate historic industrial structures if a provision the House Finance Committee added to a last-minute "Revenue Laws Technical Corrections" bill remains part of the legislation. That bill is expected to be heard in the House Rules Committee Thursday. 
VOUCHERS: A North Carolina judge won't block a state agency from distributing taxpayer money to cover private school tuition in advance of a hearing to determine whether the program championed by Republican lawmakers is legal.

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