NC lawmakers in both chambers will gather this week to discuss budget proposal, start work on ‘conference report’

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023

RALEIGH — Lawmakers in the North Carolina Senate and House will gather this week to discuss, compromise and then vote on the budget for the next two years since the proposal passed the Senate last Thursday.

The next step is for the Appropriations Committee chairs from the House and the Senate to come together to combine the Senate budget proposal and the House budget proposal so that lawmakers from both chambers will be satisfied. Then they will create a “Conference Report” that will be presented to each chamber for a vote, according to Rep. Harry Warren, who said the vote on the report will be a straight “for” or “against.” That means there is no chance for legislators to add amendments. If the conference report is approved, it will then move to Gov. Roy Cooper, who will either sign it, veto it or let it pass into law without his signature after 10 days. This will most likely occur in the middle of June.

In a news conference last week, Senate Leader Phil Berger announced the Senate’s budget proposal of $60.7 billion over two years, which is $29.8 billion in the first year and $30.9 billion in the second. The Senate’s budget proposal is strikingly similar to the budget proposal the House voted on in April, but is a little more conservative when it comes to spending.

Republican leaders in the Senate and House announced in March that, in a deal with Cooper’s office, Medicaid expansion would be coming to North Carolina but is tied to the budget proposal. If the budget proposal is passed, Medicaid expansion will also finally be passed, and potentially 600,000 people in the state would now have coverage. Recent studies show that anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000 Rowan County residents could be eligible for Medicaid coverage under the new state expansion.

Other highlights of the Senate’s budget proposal are that state employees would receive an average raise of 5 percent over two years, teachers would receive an average 4.5 percent raise and a teacher’s starting pay would be raised to $39,000 in the 2023-24 fiscal year. School vouchers for private schools would also be allowed in the Senate’s proposal; state funding to attend a K-12 private could be given to any family with the highest awards going to low-income families.