News: Quick Takes

House, Senate Budget Writers Agree On Spending Cap

In rare move, NCGA spending chairmen adopt spending limit (within TABOR guidelines) before House or Senate unveils budgets

North Carolina legislative building
North Carolina legislative building

The General Assembly’s so-called short session may be brief indeed, as legislative budget writers have announced an agreement on a total General Fund spending level before either body has put its budget together.

Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, and Rep. Nelson Dollar, R-Wake, announced on Wednesday that they plan to hold spending for the 2016-17 fiscal year to $22.225 billion. Brown and Dollar are the senior chairmen of their respective chamber’s Appropriations Committee.

“This fiscally sound and sustainable spending target will enable us to fund our shared priorities without repeating the excessive spending binges we saw under Democrats — and it is an important step to quickly passing a final budget,” Brown and Dollar said in a joint statement.

The spending limit represents a 2.26 percent increase over the current fiscal year budget, the announcement said. That is a smaller increase than the 2.8 percent increase proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory and lower than the Taxpayer Bill of Rights index, which combines the rate of population growth with the inflation rate, of 2.9 percent.

The current fiscal year’s general fund budget is $21.717 billion.

Traditionally, budget writers in the House and Senate don’t nail down a final spending figure until late in the process, after both bodies have passed their respective budgets, a practice that has often delayed the final adoption.