Democratic leaders unveiled a preliminary budget Tuesday that aims to fill a $2 billion hole in the state's budget.
But the tentative plan still puts the House budget $288 million in the red.
Rep. David Redwine, D-Brunswick, co-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said legislators will have to find ways -- through budget cuts or revenue increases -- to fill the $288 million hole. "What (the appropriations chairmen) have done is not the gospel, it is not written in stone -- it is the beginning," Redwine told members of the committee. "The intent of this document is to show you how bad it really is."
But some Republicans criticized the plan as an effort by Democrats to push forward with a tax increase or force Republicans to propose budget cuts.
Democratic efforts to build a balanced budget met a roadblock last week when a bill that would have generated $252 million in additional revenue for the House budget failed 57-60. The legislation would have granted local governments the option to raise the sales tax by one-half cent in exchange for more than $300 million in reimbursements that local governments annually receive for the state.
The proposal failed when House Republicans and some liberal Democrats banded together and voted against the increase because they said it places too much of the tax burden on the average citizen.
Several other revenue increase proposals were still under discussion as of press time Wednesday morning. The budget proposal unveiled by Democratic leaders also relied on about $160 million in additional revenue from legislation that had yet to pass the House as of the end of the day Tuesday.
And Democrats have made efforts to revive the sales tax legislation. "There's some compromises being discussed and considered," said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Camden. "There's negotiations taking place on both sides of the aisle."
House Appropriations subcommittees began meeting this week to hash out individual parts of the budget and look for additional cuts they could make to their sections of the budget plan. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education met for the first time Tuesday to examine a tentative proposal budget leaders have created for the UNC system and compared those plans to the one passed by the Senate last month.