Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget
|By Lynn Bonner
Gov. Roy Cooper said he will allow the state’s new $30 billion budget to become law without his signature.
He made the announcement Friday morning, shortly after the Senate gave the plan its final approval. Pursuant to the state constitution, the bill will become law if the governor chooses not to sign or veto it within 10 days of receiving it from the General Assembly.The budget includes Medicaid expansion, a long-sought goal for Cooper and other Democrats. [Read more...]
|By Lynn Bonner
Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly used the state budget to give themselves more power while at the same time shielding legislators’ records from the public.
Provisions in the budget exempt legislators from the state public records law, letting them withhold their documents from public view.
Senate Republicans claimed that the budget codifies current practice. [Read more...]
|By Lynn Bonner
Critics fear possibility of gridlock, fewer early voting sites, compromise of ballot secrecy
The state House voted along party lines Tuesday on a Republican plan to give legislators more control over elections.
The governor would be stripped of the power to appoint members of the state Board of Elections. Legislators would select all members of state and local elections boards, with Republican and Democratic leaders appointing equal numbers. [Read more...]
|By Lisa Sorg
Nearly 11.6 million pounds of litter was culled from North Carolina highways in 2022, according to transportation department figures, and that number doesn’t include the bags, bottles, dirty diapers, cigarette butts and other flotsam choking rural roads and urban streams.
School districts would get extra time to implement policies required by the so-called “Parents’ Bill of Rights” under the latest version of the state budget.
Under a draft version of the budget unveiled Tuesday, districts would have until Jan. 1 to put policies in place required under the new law. Senate Bill 49 required the policies to be in place by Sept. 15.
Districts, for example, must adopt rules and procedures for “parental concern hearings” and develop a parent guide to “student achievement.” School districts say that many of the procedures and rules required by the new law are already in place.[Read more.…]
Democratic lawmakers on Thursday vigorously pushed back against a Republican-led effort to expand the state’s school voucher program that will make it accessible to North Carolina’s wealthiest families.
It was the last chance Democrats had to change minds about the voucher expansion just ahead of successful House and Senate votes approving a $30 billion state spending plan.
The budget calls for pouring $500 million per year into the controversial “Opportunity Scholarship” Program by 2031.[Read more...]
Under the latest state proposal budget, the North Carolina Legal Education Assistance Foundation would still provide tuition assistance for prosecutors and public defenders — but not Legal Aid lawyers.
The carveout, located on page 413 of the most recent version of the state budget Republican lawmakers will vote on this week, restricts NC LEAF funds from going to attorneys working for Legal Aid of North Carolina, Inc. (LANC), a statewide nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil cases to the poor. In 2022, LANC’s 230-plus attorneys provided legal services to 22,745 people, benefitting 55,166 total individuals.[Read more…]
By Kelan Lyons
Current law dictating the medical release of old or sick incarcerated people is very narrow: they must be so sick that they’re likely to die within six months, have a condition that makes them “permanently and totally disabled,” or be at least 65 years old and have chronic, debilitating diseases related to aging.[Read more...]
More than $55 million is included in the state budget to address PFAS contamination in drinking water, but given the vast scope of the problem in North Carolina, the money won’t go that far.
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority in Wilmington would receive $35 million: Roughly half is allocated for public water extensions to private well owners in New Hanover County whose drinking water is contaminated with PFAS; the other half would help pay for the consolidation and regionalization of water and sewer systems in the county that are affected by PFAS.
The regionalization approach could help utilities pay for expensive treatment system upgrades to remove or reduce the contamination, but without burdening ratepayers with enormous water and sewer bills. [Read more...]