Senate Drops Medicaid, Economic Development From Budget
RALEIGH – Senate leader Phil Berger announced Wednesday that the chamber’s leadership had pulled two major policy provisions from its proposed budget to spur stalled negotiations on the state spending plan.
“We have heard from the House and from the governor concerns about some of the policy things that were placed in the Senate budget,” said Berger, a Rockingham County Republican. “We have taken those concerns and are prepared at this point to pull out from the Senate’s position in terms of negotiating the budget the economic development provisions and the Medicaid provisions.”
Berger said senators would try to advance Medicaid reform and economic development measures in separate bills.
Bills on Medicaid reform and economic development are scheduled in Senate committees Thursday morning.
Berger would not say if the Senate would insist that some other policy issues, such as local sales tax redistribution and income tax changes, remain in the budget. “Wait and see,” Berger replied to a question.
Earlier this year, the House passed a $22.2 billion general fund budget. The Senate’s version was $21.5 billion. Berger said that the Senate would compromise and up its figure to $21.65 billion, which he said would contain spending increases over the 2014-15 budget to a level within the growth in population and inflation rate of about 2.75 percent.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, said the figure puts the Senate and the house budget proposals “a couple hundred million” dollars apart.
“We encourage our colleagues in the House, particularly those colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee — Rep. Nelson Dollar — to work with us to reach that compromise number as a spend number for the 2015-16 budget,” Berger said.
Dollar, a Wake County Republican and senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, did not respond to a request for a comment on Berger’s statements.
Berger said that if House members agreed to the spending compromise, he believed that a 2015-16 fiscal year budget could be reached before Aug. 14, when the current temporary budget agreement expires.
The fiscal year began July 1.
Barry Smith (@Barry_Smith) is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.