House of Representatives passes state budget

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The North Carolina House of Representatives passed the 2021-2023 state budget by a vote of 104-10 on Wednesday.

It was the first of two required votes the House is expected to take and it comes after the Senate gave final approval on Tuesday to the $25.9 billion state budget.

State senators voted 41-7 on Wednesday in favor of the budget.

“It is a huge win for the area I represent in Pitt County. It is a huge win for Eastern North Carolina,” Rep. Brian Farkas (D-Pitt) said.

The $25.9 billion spending plan includes over $315 million in investments to Pitt County, such as school construction funding and raising state employees’ and teachers’ pay.

“This is huge,” Sen. Don Davis (D-Pitt, Greene) said. “It’s not a perfect budget, but I can tell you that this is a budget that I believe is needed for our state at this moment in time.”

A working budget was stalled after months of back and forth. North Carolina Democratic lawmakers especially had higher hopes of tackling many lingering issues.

“We could have made some really big investments in public education and access to health care and services for women and children that are routinely underfunded,” Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg) said.

Sen. Natalie Murdock (D-Durham) said she would have supported the budget had they been able to expand Medicaid.

“I more than likely would have voted for the budget,” Murdock said. “I think that that is a compromise worth making if we had the opportunity to provide healthcare for the hundreds and tens of thousands of North Carolinians that are in that Medicaid gap.”

Other key issues included the 5% raises for state employees and teachers over two years.

“The teacher pay was a measly bump that doesn’t even cover the cost of inflation,” Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Wake) said.

Sen. Mujtaba Mohammed (D-Mecklenburg) echoed Nickel’s sentiment.

However imperfect the budget is, Gov. Cooper said he’ll sign it because of its “critical and necessary investments.”

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger praised the Senate’s preliminary approval of the proposed state budget and Cooper’s announcement on Tuesday.

“This budget represents months of hard work and good-faith negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate, and our Governor,” Moore said. “The result is a spending plan for the state that addresses the most critical needs of North Carolinians.”

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