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N.C. General Assembly works to compromise on budget as FY 23-24 approaches

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Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the N.C. Senate, center, speaks at a press conference in 2021. (Juli Leonard/The News & Observer/TNS)

Republican members of the N.C. General Assembly are currently working on a compromise budget proposal for the 2023-24 fiscal year — but it may not be completed until early July. The new fiscal year begins on July 1.

N.C. Sen. Mike Woodard (D-Durham) said the N.C. House budget’s larger raises for state employees and the N.C. Senate budget’s acceleration of proposed tax cuts are the most notable differences between the two budget proposals. He said it is challenging to include the priorities of all the legislators working on the compromise budget.  

“It takes a lot of time and it requires a lot of conversation and some negotiation back and forth between all the members of the conference committee,” he said.

Woodard said there is a lot of pressure to pass a budget that implements the Medicaid expansion that was passed by the General Assembly in March.

The bill — which was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper — expands Medicaid eligibility to include the majority of adults who make less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. But, the final implementation of this expansion, Woodward said, is contingent on the adoption of a budget.

He said funding for transportation modernization is one of his personal priorities for the budget, as well as the expansion of behavioral health services across the state.

Jake Cashion, the vice president of government affairs for N.C. Chamber, said the business advocacy group is hopeful that state leadership will create a budget that supports the state’s economy and job creation. 

“North Carolina is the No. 1 state in the country for business — that wasn’t by accident,” he said.

He said the N.C. Chamber hopes the compromise budget will include an elimination of North Carolina’s regressive franchise tax and modernization of state transportation funding. 

Suzanne Beasley, the government relations director for the State Employees Association of North Carolina, said the organization would like to see pay increases for all state government employees and retirees. She said there is an employee shortage in state government jobs and that there are not enough people to fill the positions that provide critical public services.

“Part of working for the state and spending your career serving the citizens of North Carolina is not that you came to get rich,” she said. “You knew you wouldn’t make as much money as you would in the private sector, but we had those benefits that balanced it out, and those benefits have eroded.”

Beasley said that the SEANC hopes the compromise budget will include fully funding the State Health Plan — which is the health insurance program provided by the state to teachers, state employees, retirees and their dependents.

Beginning in 2021, she said, new hires for the state no longer received state health care when they retired. 

“Every single legislator has a responsibility and duty to consider the best interest of those employees,” she said. 

Beasley said that SEANC appreciates the work of the state legislature, but would like to see them do more. 

“We realize it’s coming up to the line and final talks, and hopefully we will have a budget by the end of the fiscal year: June 30,” she said.

@Lucymarques_

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com 

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Lucy Marques

Lucy Marques is a 2023-24 assistant city & state editor at The Daily Tar Heel. She was previously a city & state senior writer. Lucy is a junior pursuing a double major in political science and Hispanic literatures and cultures.

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