North Carolina moves closer to finalizing state budget plan |

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(The Center Square) – North Carolina lawmakers are moving closer to seeking consensus on how the state should spend billions of dollars over the next two years.

Legislative leaders are in the process of resolving the latest differences between Senate and House proposals for fiscal 2022 and 2023. The process has been delayed until the start of fiscal 2022, which began on July 1.

After state agencies submitted their budget requests, Governor Roy Cooper released his recommendations on how the state should spend more than $ 50 billion over the next two years. The Senate approved its version of the budget on June 25 before the start of the fiscal year. The House approved his proposal on August 12.

As the two chambers could not agree on a final version, they met to find common ground.

Officials said the credit subcommittee leaders reached an agreement before passing it on to the full committee for consensus. The Appropriation Officers agreed, and it is now up to Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, to come to an agreement.

Legislative leaders are also consulting with Cooper to finalize the plan, Berger spokesman Pat Ryan said.

“We all agree that it would be cleaner and simpler if the House and Senate first settled their differences and then got the governor to have more bilateral negotiations with the legislature,” Ryan said.

The two spending plans presented by the two chambers reduce taxes and increase spending. North Carolina plans to spend 3.45% more in FY2022 – $ 25.7 billion – and 3.65% more in FY2023 – $ 26.6 billion.

According to General Assembly plans, the state would spend $ 3.7 billion less than Cooper proposed to spend in the biennium. The governor recommended a budget of $ 27.4 billion for fiscal year 2022 and a budget of $ 28.5 billion for fiscal year 2023.

The House budget plan included historical spending amounts for disaster relief and capital projects. The proposal reduced more taxes than the Senate proposal. The Senate version reflects a $ 1 billion tax cut for North Carolinians, while the House plan reflects a $ 2 billion reduction.

The House version paid the expenses with federal tax-deductible paycheck protection program loans and exempt military pensions, both of which are missing from the Senate proposal. The Senate version, however, removed the corporate tax, while the House reduced the corporate tax rate to 1.99%. The Senate also reduced the personal income tax rate to a level lower than that of the House; 3.99% versus 4.99%.

Most state employees, including educators, would see a 3% pay rise as part of the Senate plan. State corrections officers could see an average salary increase of 7% under both plans. The House plan calls for 2.5% increases for most state employees, and teachers would see step increases of about 5.5%.

Under the House plan, other school staff would receive $ 13 an hour in the first fiscal year and $ 15 an hour in the second fiscal year. The Senate plan called for $ 13 an hour over two years. The House also granted eight weeks of paid parental leave to employees of public schools and reinstated the top diploma supplements for the first time.

Democrats in both chambers criticized plans to fund inadequate education and raise teachers. Senate Democrats have said the Senate plan prioritizes corporate taxes and does not provide enough funds for state employees and North Carolina residents in need. Cooper recommended prioritizing teacher and state employee salaries and capital improvement bonds. The governor also pushed for the expansion of Medicaid.

Despite the nearly three-month delay in the fiscal year, Ryan said most North Carolinians likely wouldn’t notice the budget was not passed. He couldn’t provide a timeline for when a final deal would come, but North Carolina will operate below existing funding levels for recurring funds due to state law.

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