House Passes State Budget
Special Report - May 6, 2011
On Wednesday, after a marathon committee discussion, two days of full debate on the floor, and numerous amendments considered, the North Carolina House of Representatives voted 72-47 to pass HB 200Appropriations Act of 2011, the state budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year.
The proposal passed on second reading by the same margin on Tuesday, but only after the House held a nearly 12-hour session, largely devoted to considering and debating numerous amendments to the bill. Altogether, the House voted to adopt 26 of the 45 proposed amendments, each of which sought to make adjustments to various provisions of the budget.
Although some amendments, including those that only proposed technical changes to the bill, were accepted with little or no discussion, other proposals prompted long and fierce debate. Among the most controversial were four separate amendments dealing with state funds connected to abortion, or to Planned Parenthood (which provides abortion and other services) and affiliated organizations.
The first of the proposed amendments was put forth by Rep. Susan Fisher (DBuncombe), which sought to change a budget provision that prohibits the use of state funds for abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, or where the life of the mother is at risk. Rep. Fisher’s amendment proposed to relax that provision, by adding language to also allow for state funding in cases where the “physical or mental health” of the mother is at risk or in cases “of grave fetal impairment.”
Representative Paul “Skip” Stam (RWake) argued that this addition would effectively allow for abortion on demand, and urged the body to defeat the amendment. The amendment failed by a vote of 49-67. Instead of adding exceptions to the provision, a second amendment by Rep. Deborah Ross (DWake) proposed an amendment that would have deleted the entire abortion-funding prohibition altogether, but that amendment also failed by a vote of 47-70.
The debate then shifted to a provision that specifically bars Planned Parenthood and affiliated organizations from state funding or funding administered by the state, as Rep. Rick Glazier (DCumberland) offered an amendment to delete that language and restore the funding. A similar proposal by Rep. Diane Parfitt (DCumberland) would have upheld the prohibition on state funding, but allowed Planned Parenthood to receive federal funds. Both amendments heard intense debate, but were ultimately rejected by votes of 51-66 and 53-65, respectively.
Overall, the House passed budget proposal would spend $19.3 billion dollars for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which is roughly seven percent below the spending levels in the budget proposal put together by the Governor’s office earlier this year.
Throughout the two days of floor debate, opponents of the budget decried the measure for the funding cuts, arguing that the cuts proposed would only create more unemployment instead of creating jobs. Opponents also charged that budget cuts made to education would take the state backward.
Proponents of the budget, while acknowledging that difficult cuts were made, said the budget was “fiscally sound” and responsible by not spending more than the state collects in revenue. Pointing to what they called the largest tax relief in the state’s history, budget advocates argued that the budget was a “jobs bill” that would have long-reaching effects in promoting economic growth around the state.
The measure secured support from some Democrats, passing both second and third readings by a vote of 72-47, a margin that, if maintained, would give the bill the three-fifths majority needed to override a gubernatorial veto.
HB 200 has been sent to the Senate to start the consideration process there.
House Takes Up Budget - April 29, 2011
Legislative Highlights - April 21, 2011
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