by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
Gov. Roy Cooper offered a budget counteroffer that would be hard to classify as a compromise. It still includes Medicaid expansion, a $3.5 billion bond (10% less than his original $3.9 billion plan), rejects a franchise tax reduction, and refuses to expand the number of Opportunity Scholarships. The proposal would spend $298 million more than the General Assembly’s budget for FY2019-20. But for FY2020-21, Cooper would spend even more than his original budget proposal, $523 million more than the legislature.
Oddly, Cooper’s latest proposal acknowledges less tax revenue from Medicaid Expansion ($50 million in FY2020-21 vs. $78.2 million across both years). It is not clear if this indicates a delay in implementation. Odder still, none of that revenue goes back into Medicaid Expansion. Instead, Cooper seems prepared to take $50 million from the Medicaid Contingency Fund to cover Expansion costs not paid by new taxes on hospitals.
The governor’s proposal keeps all of the projects derided as pork in the conference budget.