News: Quick Takes

Legislature announces $896 million surplus for latest fiscal year

The General Assembly’s nonpartisan Fiscal Research Division said the state collected nearly $900 million more than anticipated for the fiscal year which ended June 30.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, who also chairs that body’s budget committee, used a news release to announce the findings.

Brown said personal income-tax payments ran $150 million above expectations, and sales tax collections were $74 million higher than anticipated.

Brown used the opportunity to zing Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has slammed the tax-and-spending policies of the Republican-led legislature.

After Governor Cooper’s office predicted a $600 million shortfall for this year, responsible Republican budget policies actually produced a $900 million surplus. The same people who made wildly inaccurate doom-and-gloom predictions are now telling us that Medicaid expansion won’t cost the state a dime, and they’re holding the entire budget hostage over that one issue. They have no credibility.

Negotiations over the General Fund budget for the 2019-21 biennium remain at an impasse. Cooper vetoed the budget in June, insisting any deal include Medicaid expansion. The General Assembly passed by unanimous vote in late July House Bill 961, a measure that will keep federal matching funds flowing to state programs until the budget becomes law.

Editor’s note: Cooper signed the bill into law Aug. 1. The initial story reported the bill hadn’t been signed at press time. CJ regrets the error.