State Budget Awaits Governor’s Signature | Eastern North Carolina Now | The $20.6 billion General Fund budget is on its way to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. Both chambers of the General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to...

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    Publisher's note: The author of this post is Barry Smith, who is an associate editor for the Carolina Journal, John Hood Publisher.

Republicans say new priorities needed; Democrats call plan 'shameful'

    RALEIGH     The $20.6 billion General Fund budget is on its way to Gov. Pat McCrory's desk. Both chambers of the General Assembly gave final approval Wednesday to the compromise budget hammered out over the past month. Including federal spending and other programs outside the General Fund, North Carolina government will spend roughly $50 billion in the current fiscal year.

    The budget, which included $10 million for eugenics compensation, eliminated teacher tenure, and added $1.5 billion to help meet anticipated Medicaid expenses, brought sharp debate on both chambers on Wednesday.

    House Speaker Thom Tillis took issue with Democrats' assertion that the spending plan was "shameful."

    "This is about a different means to the same ends," Tillis said. "What I do know is that the prior means did not work."

    "It's nice to have good intentions," House Minority Leader Larry Hall, D-Durham, said. "But we have to live with the results of this budget. And the result is North Carolina is severely damaged."

    Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, and GOP Sen. Tom Apodaca, the Senate Rules Committee chairman, engaged in contentious debate when Nesbitt criticized the budget as "a piece of the Republican agenda."

    When Nesbitt criticized other policies decided in previous bills - such as enacting a tax reform bill including tax cuts and refusinh to expand Medicaid enrollment as a part of the federal health care law - Apodaca asserted was wavering from the budget.

    "Will somebody please show me where this is in the budget?" Apodaca asked.

    The budget also eliminates funding to the troubled Rural Economic Development Center, which recently saw its president resign in the midst of a critical state audit. Instead, the budget establishes a new Rural Economic Development Division within the Commerce Department.

    The budget provides no raise for teachers and state employees. Instead it provides teachers and state employees five bonus vacation days.

    The bill passed the Senate by a 32-17 vote. It passed the House by a 65-53 vote.
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