N.C. Senate’s overreach blocks budget
Filled with far-right policies that made it highly controversial, the Senate's budget plan far overreached its capacity, and now lawmakers are trying to pick up the pieces while our schools struggle to prepare for school starting without a budget in place.
From The News & Observer:
When he introduced the state Senate’s budget plan, Senate leader Phil Berger stressed that it was a product of careful deliberation and compromise.
In truth it was the opposite. The plan was ill-conceived and ignored the priorities of the House budget plan. It was jammed with major policy changes and drum-tight on spending. Predictably, the so-called product of compromise became an obstacle to agreement.
As a result, North Carolina sailed past the end of the fiscal year on June 30 without a budget and is drifting along under a temporary spending agreement that expires this Friday. The delay does more than keep lawmakers in Raleigh. It keeps schools in suspense about how much money they will be allocated to hire teachers and other staff with the start of school looming just two weeks away.
Larding the budget with policy complicates the process and deprives the public of hearings on major changes. The Senate’s original proposal included an overhaul of Medicaid and an economic development plan that calls for a major shift in how local sales tax revenue is distributed.
The House should stand firm on spending level $500 million higher than the senate’s $21.65 billion budget. Senate Republicans are being disingenuous by claiming that their proposed 2.7 percent increase keeps up with inflation and population growth. That increase is based on a budget still deflated by the recession. With the economy improving, the state needs to spend more on needs neglected for more than five years.