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Old North State Report

July 19, 2019

Old North State Report – July 19, 2019

State Budget Update

North Carolina's state budget impasse continued this week with no evidence state leaders will find a path to agreement and with the state Senate moving to pass a stopgap spending measure for the interim. The chamber's plan differs significantly from the one that passed the House unanimously last week, setting up a round of temporary budget negotiations as larger issues simmer on Medicaid expansion and the state's regular $24 billion budget. House leadership continues to try to find the 7 Democratic votes to override the Governor’s veto. Many observes indicate it appears that the votes will not be there to override,. With a shrinking, but still substantial, list of other issues left to handle, there was also the question now  is whether Republican leadership will hit the pause button on the legislative session, sending members back to their districts. There, they could make their pitches for or against Gov. Roy Cooper's push to tie this budget process to his long-sought efforts to expand Medicaid and provide taxpayer-funded health insurance to hundreds of thousands more North Carolinians. The Senate's stopgap budget, pasted into House Bill 961, focuses on continuing to draw down federal funding, though it also funds the state's suicide prevention hotline. It does not include a number of things the House wants to fund that were contained  in HB 111 that was passed last week. Sets up interesting dynamic  as the House and Senate Republicans differ on how to deal with the impasse.

The House version of Medicaid expansion ( HB 655 ) has  remained on the House calendar all week but has not been taken up for a vote. It remains tied to the vote to override the veto. It still remains  anybody’s guess who will blink first in this standoff.

So the question now is, when will the Legislature adjourn?  Last week the Senate introduced an adjournment resolution calling for a temporary end on July 27. only to return on August 27. That resolution has not been heard and the  Speaker of the House has signaled that he is not inclined to leave until something gets done with the Budget.  The Senate has said all committee work will be concluded next week but the House has indicated it will continue to handle significant policy matters. Obviously there will have to be some give these divergent positions. We may know more next week but it is clear that the Senate wants to go home sooner than the House does. The drama continues!