by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Now that legislative leaders have agreed to a topline number for the new state budget, we await details of how they propose to use taxpayer dollars to fund state government operations. Carolina Journal reported this week:
With the end of the state’s fiscal year just three weeks away, the N.C. House and Senate have reached a deal for the next budget. After weeks of closed negotiations, N.C. Senate and House leaders have agreed to a top-line spending number of $25.7 billion in the first year and $26.7 in the second year. That’s a spending increase of 3.45% in the first year of the biennium and 3.65% in year two.
Locke President Donald Bryson says the numbers are good news for taxpayers.
“Over the past 10 years, the North Carolina General Assembly has consistently maintained budget increases within the population and inflation growth constraints. In other words, legislative leaders have not let state government grow faster than the economy that supports it. That’s smart budgeting, and this spending level agreement falls within that category.”
On Thursday, Carolina Journal Editor-in-Chief Donna King talked with WPTF’s Scott Briggaman about budget negotiations, why agreement on the topline number is so critical going forward, and the questions mark over how Gov. Roy Cooper will react to the Republican budget.
Gov. Cooper certainly has a history of budget vetoes, as Carolina Journal points out, but is this year different?
Cooper has vetoed every budget since taking office, and lawmakers are considering the likelihood that he could do it again. Last year, he vetoed one that contained raises for teachers and state employees, arguing that he wanted funding to add more than 700,000 people to the Medicaid program and that the teacher raises were not big enough. The end result was no budget, and no raises. As lawmakers prepare to send him another budget, the possibility of another two years without teacher raises could draw enough Democrats to cross the aisle and vote for it or vote to override a gubernatorial veto.
Stay tuned to carolinajournal.com for developments.