House Passes Budget:

This week was budget week at the General Assembly with the House passing a $22.22 billion budget by week’s end. The budget drew more bipartisan support than any other budget since the Republicans gained majorities in both chambers in 2011 and passed by a 103-12 margin.

  • Raises pay for teachers by an average of over 4% with the amount varying based on the experience level of the teacher
  • Raises pay for State employees by 2% plus a $500 bonus
  • Phases in an increase in the standard deduction over a four-year period
  • Repeals the privilege tax for equipment purchased by certain businesses

Amendments to repeal H2 and cancel the contract to build managed toll lanes on I-77 north of Charlotte were both ruled out of order. An amendment to increase taxes on boat and plane purchases failed.

The budget bill now goes to the Senate, which is expected to produce its version in the next few weeks. Budget negotiators will then work to resolve differences between the two bills and present it to Governor McCrory by June 30, the end of the State’s fiscal year.

Other Matters of Note this Week Include:

  • Representative Richardson (D-Cumberland) filed a bill (H 1122 (link is external)), which would allow voters to decide, via referendum, whether to outlaw gill and other specified nets in all state waters. Such rule changes are usually made by the Marine Fisheries Commission.
  • The Senate Health Committee considered a bill (S 830 (link is external)) that would add Kratom to the Controlled Substance List. Kratom is a drug of increasing popularity in the US that some scientists say acts on opioid receptors and therefore produces similar effects. The Committee will now take public comment on the bill.
  • Senator Bill Cook (R-Beaufort) introduced a bill (S 843 (link is external)) that would impose various financial hurdles and safety precautions on renewable energy facilities. In some cases, these would be stricter than that of coal-burning and nuclear power plants. Advocates of renewable energy oppose the bill.