• Senate, House still debating NC budget plan

    By: Paige Hansen


    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - North Carolina's government won't stop running if the House and Senate can't agree on a budget plan this short session.
    The implications could be far-reaching.
    For starters, teachers wouldn't see any raises from the state.
    For a budget to reach the governor's desk, both chambers have to agree on the same version of the bill.
    Two main issues are stopping that from happening: Funding for Medicaid and money to raise teacher pay.
    Members of the state House unanimously passed a smaller version of their original budget bill, but it may not get much further.
    Sen. Jeff Tarte said the probability the bill will pass the Senate is low.
    Especially after Wednesday, when Gov. Pat McCrory announced the new plan alongside members of the state house.
    No senators were invited.
    Political expert Michael Bitzer said that move raised eyebrows.
    “Right now I think it's a standoff between the state house and the governor versus the state senate. That's the optics of what we saw yesterday,” Bitzer said.
    The governor had hoped to encourage legislators to pass a budget, but Bitzer says it could prove problematic.
    “If it backfires, that's the real danger,” Bitzer said. “He has got to be able to exercise the leadership but if he pulls this and it doesn't work, everybody may say 'Is he a lame duck?'”
    Now, the House's budget bill, which includes an average 5 percent raise for teachers, will head to the senate.
    The Senate proposed an 11 percent pay raise for teachers, but would cut teaching assistant positions and ask teachers to give up tenure.
    “Everything, at least from the Senate's perspective, is open to conversation and negotiation,” Tarte said.
    Bitzer said with Republicans controlling both chambers and the governor's office, the signal is a lack of party unity.
    Members have a deadline of July 3 but that's mostly an artificial deadline.
    Bitzer said the short session will probably be prolonged and a budget could come in a piecemeal fashion later in the summer.

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