Earth, Wind & Fire has a song about remembering the night of September 21. Will this be the day the North Carolina General Assembly passes the state budget?
More like Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends”.
Senate Leader Phil Berger told reporters on Wednesday night that he doesn’t expect the legislature’s compromise budget, known as the conference budget, to be done until the end of September.
This means that increases for tens of thousands of teachers and other state employees will continue to be suspended, along with proposed tax cuts, university construction projects and any increases in government budgets. operation across the state.
House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican from Kings Mountain, said it would be mid-September. Berger isn’t even that optimistic.
Berger and Moore both spoke and met with Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who they promised earlier this year that he would be part of the final budget process before it was passed by the Republican-majority General Assembly. The Senate adopted its version of the budget in June and the House adopted its budget proposal in August. While the chambers are dominated by the same party, that doesn’t mean they always agree.
The current stalemate exceeds spending on several issues. It’s similar to their debate in late spring, when the House and Senate swapped offer after offer on a total spending count. They have this: $ 25.7 billion.
But they do not agree on the amount of money to spend on different categories of expenditure.
The main differences that have a direct impact on most North Carolinians are the amount of employee increases – higher in the House than in the Senate, and the tax cuts – higher in the Senate than in the House. .
The Senate and House passed their budgets with enough Democrats to constitute a qualified majority, which is the three-fifths majority needed to override a veto. The state did not have a 2019 budget that became law, after Cooper vetoed it and only the House overturned it. Instead, a series of piecemeal budget bills were passed and spending levels from the previous budget were carried over, as was the case for this fiscal year which began on July 1.
“Ray of light” in the budget debate
Getting closer to a deal doesn’t speed up the timeline.
“I saw a small ray of light. We still have conversations, ”Berger said of budget negotiations with the House.
“I think we’ve narrowed down the areas we need to agree on in order to seriously start working on the final budget provisions. Hopefully, early next week we will be able to have our subcommittees to try to write a conference report. We are not there yet, ”he said.
This means closed-door meetings next week between budget negotiators. Berger said they were “very close to an agreement on how much to spend on various major components of the budget.”
Once they have agreed on the expenses, the subcommittees will work out the details.
Those details include salary increases, Berger said.
He said that while the process is moving quickly, he no longer thinks there will be a sessional break between the budget and lawmakers returning to work on redistribution in October.
“I don’t see us getting to the [budget] finish line before the end of September, ”said Berger.
So what else are they going to do for the rest of the month?
“I hope for something more than us who just look at ourselves,” he said.
The House and Senate will not have floor-level votes next week until Wednesday. Monday is the national labor day.
This fall, lawmakers are tasked with drawing new political maps. The Senate and House Redistribution Committees have announced 13 upcoming public hearings.
Here is the schedule:
September 8: Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute at 6 p.m.
September 14: Forsyth Technical Community College at 4 p.m.
Elizabeth City State University at 5 p.m.
September 15: Durham Technical Community College at 6 p.m.
Nash Community College at 5 p.m.
September 16: Alamance Community College at 5 p.m.
Pitt Community College at 3 p.m.
September 21: West Carolina University at 5 p.m.
September 22: Central Piedmont Community College at 3 p.m.
September 23: Mitchell Community College (Iredell County Campus) at 3 p.m.
September 28: UNC-Pembroke at 4 p.m.
September 29: UNC-Wilmington at 5 p.m.
September 30: Fayetteville Technical Community College at 6 p.m.
For more information on North Carolina government and politics, listen to The News & Observer and NC Insider’s Under the Dome political podcast. You can find it at link.chtbl.com/underthedomenc or wherever you get your podcasts.