Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH – The General Assembly has completed its work on the state’s nearly $20.2 billion General Fund budget. It’s now on Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue’s desk.
Both the House and the Senate gave final approval to the compromise budget by comfortable margins.
The Senate passed the budget by a 30-15 party-line vote. The House passed it by a 71-45 vote, as five Democrats joined 66 Republicans for the measure. All 45 of the votes against it in the House were from Democrats.
Both houses achieved more than a 60-percent margin, which would be sufficient to override a veto if Perdue chose to do so.
The budget actually is an adjustment to the final year of a two-year budget approved by the General Assembly last year.
Republicans noted that the budget passed Thursday would actually add money to education programs and teacher and state employee salaries compared to the budget approved last year.
“The reality is we have so many dollars to spend,” Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said just before that chamber took its vote. He noted that the budget provided pay increases for teachers and state employees and reduced the gasoline tax.
“We just don’t have the money to do everything,” Berger said. “We have the money to do what we have to do. This budget does that.”
Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange, the House minority leader and former speaker, said that the budget “takes us backward on jobs.”
He said that the budget includes some “unexamined, bad policy” on education and is absent money for a bipartisan compensation package for victims of forced sterilization program that was in place in the state for decades. It ended in the mid-1970s.
The General Fund budget passed by the General Assembly represents 39 percent of the $52.2 billion state government will spend in the 2012-13 fiscal year. The additional money comes from the federal government and other taxes and fees paid by North Carolina residents.
Barry Smith is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.