North Carolina Senate budget proposal clears chamber, with negotiations with House soon to follow

RALEIGH, N.C. — A two-year state government budget proposal cleared the North Carolina Senate on Thursday, setting the stage for negotiations with House counterparts over the coming weeks to fashion a final spending and tax plan.

For the second day in a row, seven Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the measure, which incorporates over 1,000 pages of spending items and policy directives.

The House, which is also controlled by Republicans, approved its own budget proposal last month that spends the same amount overall as the Senate. That’s $29.8 billion in the year starting July 1 and $30.9 billion for the following year. But the plans differ on the extent of proposed income tax cuts, worker and teacher pay raises and policy prescriptions.

For example, the House wants to distance oversight of the State Bureau of Investigation further away from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration. Meanwhile, the Senate wants to do away with many more “certificate of need” laws that require regulatory approval before a medical facility can be built or expensive equipment purchased.

Following negotiations, a consensus bill will be voted upon by the both chambers and go to the desk of Cooper, who has criticized the House and Senate plans, particularly on public education spending and policy.

Republicans now hold veto-proof seat majorities in both chambers, so it’s more likely that any final measure can overcome a Cooper veto. And a provision in the Medicaid expansion law that Cooper signed with great fanfare in March makes implementation of health coverage to hundreds of thousands of additional adults contingent on passage of a budget law.

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