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Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget


Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget

Sep 24, 2023 | 9:19 am ET
By Clayton Henkel
Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget
NC General Assembly (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

Gov. Cooper will let state budget bill become law without his signature

Gov. Roy Cooper speaks at a podium
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (Photo: Screengrab from video feed)
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...]

$30 billion NC budget giving Republicans new powers nears final legislative approval

members sit in their seats on the floor of the North Carolina Senate
NC Senate votes on $30 billion state budget Thursday. (Photo: Lynn Bonner)
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...]

NC House okays GOP bills to alter election board appointments, open voting records

NC House Elections and Campaign Finance Reform committee members
NC House Elections and Campaign Finance Reform committee discusses making cast vote records public. (Photo: Lynn Bonner)
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...]

Keep North Carolina filthy: Proposed budget could limit cities, counties from enforcing litter laws

This is a photo of a a plastic tray and cup caught in some branches in a Durham stream.
The proposed state budget contains language that could constrain local governments from enforcing littering ordinances. (File photo: Lisa Sorg)
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.

Now if a provision in the proposed state budget is not changed, North Carolina’s trash problem could worsen.[Read more...]

Gambling with people’s lives: A tragic legislative session devolves into farce (commentary)

Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget
Photo: Clayton Henkel
By Rob Schofield

A game. An utterly cynical game that’s about nothing other than power, money and winning.

That’s clearly how North Carolina state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, and the minions with whom they surround themselves are treating the never-ending 2023 state legislative session over which they exert such complete and unmerited control. [Read more...]

Senate leader folds his hand. Casinos will not be part of North Carolina’s budget.

Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget
Senate Leader Phil Berger (Screengrab from NCGA video)
By Clayton Henkel

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) rarely loses a hand in the political games that play such a prominent role in the work of North Carolina General Assembly.

But on Tuesday, Berger seemed to abide by the admonition in the famous Kenny Rogers’ song, “The Gambler”: “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.” [Read more...]

New budget proposal would delay implementation of Parents’ Bill of Rights law

Public Strong School advocates listen during a Chatham County Board of Education meeting
Public Strong School advocates — many of whom criticized the state’s new “Parents Bill of Rights” law — listen during a Chatham County Board of Education meeting. Photo/Greg Childress

By Greg Childress

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.…]

Democrats make a final, unsuccessful push against school voucher expansion

Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget
Rep. Ashton Wheeler Clemmons discusses school vouchers during budget debate Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. (Photo: Screenshot from livestream of budget hearing.)

By Greg Childress

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...]

Legal Aid lawyers carved out of tuition assistance program in latest budget

Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget

By Kelan Lyons

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…]


Latest budget still includes expanded eligibility for prison medical release

Weekend reads: What to know about NC’s new $30 billion budget
Inmates in many prisons must pay for basic necessities and prices on those items have been rising. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

By Kelan Lyons

Following the lead of a budget drafted by Senate legislators earlier this year, the latest version of lawmakers’ budget proposal would expand medical release for elderly people in state prisons.

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...]


State budget includes money for PFAS, higher fees for electric cars, DEQ bonuses for speed

two firefighters spray foam from a large hose
Firefighting foam, used at airports and military bases, has been identified as a source of toxic PFAS chemicals. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Administration)

By Lisa Sorg

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...]