House Takes Up Budget
Special Report - April 29, 2011
The House Appropriations Committee has approved its version of a $19.3 billion budget for the state, with the full House taking up the measure early next week. HB 200Appropriations Act of 2011 was approved by the Committee on Thursday, April 28, after nine hours of debate and consideration of more than 100 amendments. Committee rules required that any amendments that were adopted and will spend money must include equal amounts of cuts in spending. The House is scheduled to debate and take the first of two votes on the budget Tuesday, May 3. Once the House approves the budget, it will go to the Senate and then to a conference committee before final legislative approval sends the plan to Governor Perdue.
The $19.3 billion bottom-line is $600 million less than the budget proposed by Governor Perdue in February. Education and health spending, which account for more than three-fourths of the state’s budget, is $900 million less in the House proposal than in the Governor’s. The House Finance Committee approved a series of fee changes on April 26 to provide additional revenue to the state, so that the Republican majority could keep its campaign promise of not increasing taxes and allowing temporary tax increases to expire as scheduled. Governor Perdue’s budget proposed keeping most of the temporary sales tax levied in 2009.
Among the proposed cuts are:
- Elimination of the Health and Wellness Trust Fund and the Tobacco Trust Fund.
- Diversion of $67 million from the Golden LEAF Foundation each of the next two years.
- $42 million in unspecified cuts to school districts.
- 15.5 percent cut to the UNC system.
- Elimination of tuition and fee waivers or reductions for out-of-state students in the UNC system.
- Limitation of need-based financial aid and legislative tuition grants to four-and-a-half years of education per student.
- 20 percent reduction in Smart Start and More at Four funding, and a requirement that More at Four parents pay a co-pay.
- Elimination of more than $800,000 for the Governor’s School of North Carolina.
- Elimination of the State Abortion Fund, and state and federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and a prohibition on state funding of insurance that covers elective abortions.
- Pay freeze for state employees, with the exception of teachers.
- Consolidation of numerous commissions and departments, including:
- Consolidating the departments of correction, juvenile justice, and crime control and public safety into a single new Department of Public Safety.
- Moving the Department of Environment and Natural Resources into the Department of Agriculture.
Two amendments were offered in the Appropriations Committee to attempt to restore funding for Planned Parenthood. Both amendments failed.
The budget also includes an additional $92 million in revenue generated from new and increased fees. These include higher fees for many court services, including foreclosures and divorces. Additionally, fees will now be increased or initiated on ferries, GEDs, and drivers’ education. The Greensboro News & Record has compiled a list of the new fees.
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