by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Senate leadership and Gov. Cooper have taken notably different approaches to disaster relief funds that redound to the Senate’s benefit.
First, Gov. Cooper earmarked $100 million reserve from availability for disaster relief, all of it and more already pledged “to meet immediate cash flow needs,” and promises to use some of the $300 million set aside in the Savings Reserve Account to meet disaster relief and recovery costs. The Senate budget covers these needs with $150 million in appropriations. If the governor’s budget treated these funds the same way the Senate does, spending under his plan would mark a 5.8 percent increase over FY2017.
The governor’s budget did not distinguish the $100 million required by law to replenish the Savings Reserve Account for funds used in disaster recovery. It simply lumped that sum in with new savings. The Senate separated the two portions of reserve funding. Combined, the Senate puts $50 million more into savings than the governor did.
Even with these differences, the Senate proposal spends less in the second year of the biennium than the governor would have spent in the first year.