RALEIGH, N.C. - Republicans in the North Carolina Senate are geared up to move their budget adjustments through the chamber by the end of the week.
GOP budget-writers have completed their proposal to spend more than $21 billion in state funds for the year beginning July 1. They'll take the plan through three committees Thursday, starting with the appropriations panel.
The measure adjusts the second year of the two-year budget approved last summer and attempts to raise salaries significantly for teachers who agree to give up their job protections as veteran educators. Money for the proposal comes in part from cost-cutting elsewhere in the public schools.
North Carolina senators will consider cutting the Department of Justice budget by more than half.
This comes as the head of the D.O.J. -- Attorney General Roy Cooper -- plans to run for governor in 2016.
Most immediately, it would mean more than 600 jobs would be cut. It would also mean the Justice Department would lose control over several agencies.
The Senate wants to slash the Justice Department's budget by 59 percent, down to $34M.
With that smaller budget, the Senate would then transfer agencies like the State Crime Lab and the State Bureau of Investigation to the Department of Public Safety.
Cooper, a Democrat who leads the Justice Department, is against the idea.
"For 75 years an independent SBI has without bias rooted out corruption in the executive and legislative branches. With this move the legislature protects itself and the Governor at the expense of government integrity, and ignores North Carolina law enforcement's opposition," Cooper said.
If the cuts go through, Republican Governor Pat McCrory would be able to appoint the head of the SBI.
When asked about the senate plan to move the SBI, McCrory said, “Based on my discussion with other governors, that’s not an issue I have with that. Frankly there could be conflict of interest with the attorney general, who is an elected position. So the attorney general, as we have seen both past, present and future, could possibly also...wherever you put the SBI there could be potential conflicts of interest. I think the goal is to keep politics out of all investigations. And as a mayor and as a governor, we have done just that. By the way, we have other public safety organizations under my responsibility now and one thing I’ve done, is we keep the politics out of all investigations, whether they be criminal or otherwise. So regardless of where they are, right now they are under an elected official either way. What I’m looking for is what’s most efficient and effective and that’s where I’m studying the plans right now and I’m going to be getting input from my Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry, a former FBI official, who is heading up the policy now...I have to still review and get feedback from my public safety officer secretary who would be in charge of that. But I can guarantee to you that regardless of where it’s held, we have to keep the politics out of law enforcement at all levels. That includes highway patrol, alcohol bureau, SBI and other important organizations that are under my responsibility now.”
Cooper plans to run against McCrory for governor in 2016.
The proposal would add $60M to the public safety budget.