NC budget deal receives final legislative OK



RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina's budget is now in the hands of the governor.

The North Carolina Legislature on Thursday passed a compromised budget that doesn't raise taxes but fails to trim public school cuts to the level sought by Gov. Beverly Perdue and fellow Democrats.

The budget does include the money needed to extend the light rail to Charlotte's University area and gives state employees, including teachers, a 1.2 percent pay raise.

School board member Eric Davis said that will help the district give its employees a three percent total raise.

"What's great about the state plan is it's recurring money," Davis said. "It's an increase to the pay schedule, so it's an enduring increase that goes beyond this year."

Republicans pointed out the bill provides the first pay raise for public school teachers and state employees since 2008 and gives $251 million more money to K-12 compared to what the two-year budget had allowed.

Democrats balked at the $251 million figure, pointing out the amount incorporates the teacher pay raise.

“We answered the governor's call to invest in education and other priorities, and we look forward to her signing this budget," Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in a statement.

For the second year in a row, the state House and Senate pulled funding for the Garden Parkway.

Lawmakers moved the $17.5 million to other road projects after the state’s Department of Transportation said it expected lawsuits to delay the project. However, lawmakers did promise the project $35 million next year.

Following separate debates, both the House and Senate voted for the $20.2 billion spending plan, which adjusts the second year of the two-year budget approved in 2011.

Perdue has 10 days to approve the budget.

Perdue spokesman Mark Johnson said she was reviewing the budget but did not say what she would do. She canceled a scheduled speech in Raleigh to study the legislators' plan.

On Thursday evening, Perdue's office issued the following statement: 

"My top priority is increasing our investment in education so that we can prepare our children to compete in the 21st century economy. The budget passed today does not go far enough in restoring funding for public schools in North Carolina. I will continue to review the proposal, but it is my sincere hope that the General Assembly will find a way to do better in the days ahead."

Perdue vetoed a two-year budget last year, but the veto was overridden.