Why the Budget fight is Important 

The North Carolina House of Representatives gave final approval to a $24 billion budget on June 27th. The Governor vetoed the bill the following day June 28th.

We have been dealing with this veto ever since. While the Members are still in session hearing bills and attending committee meetings, the budget is the main focus and we are at an Impasse!

To recap – The Governor rejected the budget for the following reasons: the funding method for school construction and repair, it did not allocate enough funding for teacher pay raises, and it did not expand Medicaid. Rarely have we seen a Governor place specific demands on the budget process and further, stating that he will not sign a budget without his demands prior to the budget even being presented and released.

There are truly philosophical differences in the Governor’s proposals and that of the General Assembly Republicans and some Democrat leaders.

Here are the differences in the three major demands the Governor put forward: (1) the Governor wants to fund school construction and repair with a multimillion dollar bond. His original bond amount exceeded our debt capacity by $2 billion. The General Assembly wants to pay for school construction and repair with “real cash money”, and lots of it. The funding is available in “real cash” from the State Capital Infrastructure Fund; (2) the Governor wants 9% pay increase for teachers. The General Assembly recommended 3.9% average increase for teachers given that teacher pay has been a top priority for them, this will be the 6th consecutive year that teachers will be earning and receiving more; (3) the Governor wants to expand Medicaid statewide, and this would include bringing an estimated 500,000 onto the Medicaid rolls at a cost of $6 billion over the next two years, which represents a 28% increase in Medicaid spending and a roughly 8% increase in total state spending.  Within the last several budget cycles the Republicans have “fixed” the Medicaid cost overruns that were in the billions of dollars. Our Medicaid Program is now operating under budget and was transformed from a fee-for-service Medicaid program to a new Medicaid managed care program. This new program has just now been recently launched. The General Assembly views further Medicaid expansion as a policy decision that “should not hold up the budget whatsoever”. To that end, they approved a provision in the budget for a special session to come back to consider Medicaid expansion after the state budget is enacted.   So you can see the impasse between the Governor’s demands and what the General Assembly believes is the best course for the entire state.

Additional items in the current budget that will be impacted due to the impasse. All of these programs are threatened due to lack of a budget by the Governor’s veto.

  • $562 Million in Pay Raises and Bonuses for Teachers and State Employees. The largest state employee pay raises in a decade
  • State Retiree Supplement
  • $91 Million for School Safety
  • $4.4 Billion for School Construction
  • $710 Million for Hurricane Recovery (Rainy Day Fund)
  • $6 Million to clear the rape kit backlog
  • $15 Million for rural broadband
  • $15 Million to fight the opioid epidemic
  • College Tuition Assistance
  • $1 Million to combat cyber security threats
  • Investments in infrastructure, state and local parks
  • $39 Million for clean water
  • A suicide prevention program for military and veterans
  • Tax relief for ALL North Carolina families

Additionally, this budget provides for:

Increasing funding for the Classroom Supplies allotment; allocates $150 per eligible classroom teacher in 2019-20 and $200 per teacher in 2020-21 to purchase supplies through an online vendor; $15 million non-recurring each year.

A 1% across the board increase in each year of the biennium for non-certified public school employees.

Provides funds to increase wages paid to direct support personnel working in group homes that care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Rail infrastructure needs $23 million, train station upgrades, overhauling locomotives, etc.

Most importantly, Rep. Presnell had successfully secured several key investments and grants in the state budget for District 118-Haywood /Madison/Yancey

Key provisions for District 118 include:  

Haywood County

$11,889,100 in school construction for Haywood County Schools
$125,000 for Haywood Community Living Center
$137,807 for Haywood County Innovative Court Pilot Program

Madison County

$10,666,773 in school construction for Madison County Schools
$188,305 Madison County replace election equipment
Madison County Forest Service Headquarter Funding

Yancey County

$10,572,504 in school construction for Yancey County Schools
$400,000 for Yancey County land purchase for 911 dispatch center
$3,829,850 for capital needs at Mayland Community College
$515,000 for Anspach Manufacturing School at Mayland Community College
$1,510,000 for early college classes

There are numerous other important programs in the budget that are in jeopardy if the veto is sustained.

Just Remember – on June 27th the House of Representatives voted for HB966, 2019 Appropriations Act.  The vote was 64 to 49, (3) Democrat members voted for the budget. Because of the Governor’s veto, the House will need a total of 7 Democrats voting for the budget this time around. The Democrats are under enormous pressure to “hold the line” and not vote with the Republicans to override their Governor’s veto.  It is like Russian Roulette!  We hope and pray that everyone, regardless of their party will vote their conscience and realize that their vote is important to so many of our citizens. This budget encompasses far more than several demands being made and has the potential to impact so many of our citizens.

You can find a copy of the budget here.

Rep. Michele D. Presnell  

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