Unable to reach an agreement on a state General Fund budget, legislative leaders plan to extend their temporary budget continuing resolution until Sept. 18, but House and Senate leaders did announce they had agreed on how the General Fund would be parceled out over the next two years.
Earlier in August, GOP Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders agreed to a $21.735 billion bottom line for the 2015-16 fiscal year General Fund budget. At the time, legislative leaders were optimistic that a final deal could be hammered out before Monday, when the current continuing resolution expires.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, announced to House members that the General Assembly would adopt the continuing resolution extension today. The Senate would take up the measure first, followed by the House, he said.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, who is the senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said that agreements had been reached on subcommittee spending figures for the first year of the two-year biennium. Later, Dollar’s counterpart in the Senate, Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said negotiators had settled on the second-year numbers also.
Brown said a number of other agreements had been reached for the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Brown said negotiators have reached agreements on raises for state employees and teachers. Those include a $750 across-the-board bonus for state employees and teachers. Starting teacher salary will be raised to $35,000, a figure included in both the House and the Senate budgets.
Teachers would get their seniority or step salary increases, Brown said, and additional compensation for the State Highway Patrol troopers, magistrates, and correction officers will be included. Money also will be provided so that departments can give targeted raises to specific state employees, he said.
The compromise numbers for government subgroups for 2015-16 are $12 billion for education (plus an additional $34.7 million in nonrecurring funds); $15.1 billion for health and human services; $2.4 billion for justice and public safety; $372 million for natural and economic resources; and $425.4 million for general government.
The compromise also would end the $215.9 million transfer of money from the Highway Fund to the General Fund to pay for the State Highway Patrol.
The fiscal year began July 1. The initial continuing budget resolution expired Aug 14. Lawmakers later extended the budget spending authority until Aug. 31.
Today’s anticipated action would be the third budget extension this year.
Barry Smith (@Barry_Smith) is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.