With spending talks idling, North Carolina House to advance its own budget proposal

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – While spending talks idle between Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly, the House is rolling out its own proposed budget adjustments for the coming year, and plans to vote on them next week, Speaker Tim Moore said Tuesday.

House and Senate GOP leaders have been negotiating privately for weeks on a path forward to create one budget measure they can agree on together without going through the conventional process of advancing competing spending plans. Any such measure would adjust the second year of a two-year state government budget enacted last fall.

But both Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger have expressed frustration with the negotiations. Berger has said House Republicans want to spend more in the next 12 months than the Senate – potentially $1 billion more – and spend a lot on what he calls “pork,” meaning local or unnecessary projects.

While Moore downplayed monetary differences on Tuesday, he told reporters that the House wanted to “make a statement” and propose higher pay for teachers and state employees beyond what the two-year budget is currently offering in the coming year. The Senate is not on board with that, the speaker said.

“We’ve reached a really tough point in negotiations,” Moore said, so “we’re going to move forward with a budget on the House side. I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to get a resolution with the Senate as well.” Moore said he expects his chamber’s budget bill to be made public early next week, with floor votes later next week.

Any budget adjustment bill approved by the House would then go to the Senate, which would be apt to vote out their own proposal. Negotiations over the competing plans would follow. A final approved measure would then go to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for his consideration.

The fiscal year ends June 30, which is usually the self-imposed deadline to complete new budget legislation. Completing one by that date seems unlikely this year. In the meantime, the state government would operate on the second year of the enacted budget, which would spend almost $31 billion.

State economists project that government coffers will bring in nearly $1 billion more through mid-2025 than was anticipated when the two-year budget was created. Lawmakers are facing financial pressures to address a waiting list for children seeking scholarships to attend private schools and a loss of federal funds for child care.