by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
While the House continues to work on its budget in committee and on the floor, we are analyzing what is in it. Spending would increase 3.1 percent the first year and 4.0 percent the second year, which raises questions on future sustainability, but would remain less than revenues and availability each year.
The budget is built differently than either Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposal or past budgets. The $23.9 billion in appropriations for FY2019-20 is $700 million more than comparable spending in FY2018-19. Cooper would have appropriated $24.5 billion.
A statutory change moves debt service and capital from appropriations to a State Capital and Infrastructure Fund. Capital projects moved last year, which made spending look $155 million lower than it otherwise would have. This year, the legislative comparisons have been more straightforward, but it continues to confuse when comparing this year’s budget bill with last year’s.
Salaries and benefits grow more than any other item in the budget, increasing $421 million in FY2019-20 and another $548 million in FY2020-21. Medicaid spending increases $32 million in FY2019-20 and $180 million in FY2020-21.