This week the Senate unveiled its $21.2 billion spending plan. We expect a vote late Friday after a robust debate and plenty of amendments.
This bill includes about $28 million in new fees - mostly from hospitals (who must bear more of the cost of treating Medicaid patients) but also from establishments with ABC permits, a doubling of the license fee for commercial fishermen, to name a few. Reserve funds for special purposes that had healthy balances also take a major hit.
Medicaid eligibility is significantly tightened and the Medicaid program is taken out of DHHS over the objection of Governor McCrory and Secretary Wos.
North Carolina teachers could see average pay increases of $5,800 in exchange for giving up their tenure status; this comes after years of no pay raises. The raises cost about $370 million which would be dollars realized, in part, from reducing the funding for Teacher Assistants and cutting the Department of Public Instruction by about 30%.
In what clearly shows the frustration of legislators, the budget contains a provision that requires a 3 judge panel hear all claims that new laws are unconstitutional on their face. This appears to be a reaction to a recent court decision in which the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) prevailed against the elimination of teacher tenure.
We will be back next week to talk about how the Senate Budget fared.