RALEIGH — The debate is underway on the North Carolina spending plan proposal.
The $21 billion proposal was released late on Wednesday night and by mid afternoon was on the Senate floor for consideration. Legislators say after a long compromise process, they expect quick votes on this budget bill.
North Carolina is one month into its fiscal year and now could be just days away from actually having a new spending plan to follow.
"It moves the state in education to where its competitive as far as teacher pay and addresses many of the needs that are important to this state," said Senator Harry Brown.
The budget adjustments have been being doled out for days, but the final proposal was not released until late Wednesday night.
For Senate members who were on the floor debating the bill less than 24 hours later, they say there wasn't enough time to go through the details of the plan.
“I am really concerned that this is a 400 plus page bill. The House has a sensible rule that they can't take it up for all intense and purposes for 30 to 36 hours and that gives you some opportunity to read 430 plus pages,” said Senator Dan Blue.
Included in the proposal is the much talked about average of seven percent teacher pay raise. Although based on years of experience and other factors, that raise could be much smaller or more than double that amount.
It also moves the State Bureau of Investigation under the Department of Public Safety, makes cuts in Medicaid eligibility by lowering the income threshold for any new to qualify for special assistance and extends the ban on drone usage by state and local governments until the end of 2015.
"Its a plan that isn't sustainable, its a plan that does not work," said
Lawmakers are looking at leaving town when the budget bill is approved and returning in a few weeks after the Governor has had time to consider it.
Governor Pat McCrory says his initial impression of the spending plan is a good one.
“We are still reviewing the numbers, but things are looking more positive concerning the parameters that I set out, which was regarding reasonable teacher pay raises, the second is no cuts to Medicaid eligibility, and the third is preservation of operating revenue, that I need for basic operation of government buildings,” said Governor Pat McCrory.
The proposal needs two votes in both the House and Senate before it goes to the Governor for consideration.
The Senate says it intends to complete its work on the budget just past midnight tonight and the House is expected to take its votes on Friday and Saturday.
• Read the full budget here (.pdf)