Old North State Report - June 23, 2017
This week the North Carolina General Assembly approved the conference report for Senate Bill 257 (“Appropriations Act of 2017”) to fund the $23 billion state budget.
Governor Roy Cooper criticized the budget compromise and is likely to veto the legislation. The votes in the House (77-40) and Senate (38-11) point to the strong likelihood of a veto over-ride. Four Democrats in the Senate and five from the House supported the budget largely because of local projects in their districts.
Here is the full 366-page document:
Here is the committee report detailing the spending items:
Democratic leaders complained about “pork barrel” spending and not enough investments in education. Republicans leaders touted $363 million more for the state’s rainy-day fund, $100 million in additional funds for Hurricane Matthew recovery efforts, and $125 million for government building repairs. Highlights of the GOP budget also include:
- Teachers receive an average pay raise of nearly ten percent over the next two years and the budget boosts most other state employees' pay by a flat $1,000. Retired state employees would receive a 1 percent, permanent cost-of-living increase in their pension checks.
- A series of tax cuts in 2019, reducing the personal income tax rate from 5.499 percent to 5.25 percent and raising the standard deduction to $20,000 for married couples filing jointly from $17,500. The budget also lowers the corporate income tax rate to 2.5 percent from 3 percent, repeals a sales tax on mill machinery, and cuts the franchise tax paid by businesses.
- Republicans jabbed their Democratic opponents — Governor Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein — by decreasing their office budgets, moving oversight of the Industrial Commission and an education grant program from the Governor’s cabinet to Republican-led offices, and restricting their ability to hire private attorneys who challenge legislation in court.
- Speaker Tim Moore told the House to expect long calendars next week to consider remaining bills. Members were instructed to plan for meeting next Friday and Saturday in an effort to finish up by July 1st. A potential wrench in this plan is how long Governor Cooper takes to veto the budget. He has until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 2nd to act, and if he waits until then, that would likely prolong the legislative session after the July 4th holiday.
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