GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – The biennial budget for North Carolina that was supposed to go into effect on July 1 is going to have to wait a few weeks more.
Under fire from educators and Democrats to get a budget passed, Republicans in the General Assembly now don’t plan to vote on the budget until at least Sept. 11.
That was the word on Thursday from House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland), who made that announcement to the maybe half-dozen members of his chamber who attended the “session.”
Moore said budget negotiators in the House and Senate “had made good progress” and that the bill “is in the Senate.” He did not elaborate.
“We likely will take up the budget the week of Sept. 11 – Sept. 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th,” he said.
The Senate, which also met on Thursday – although without Sen. Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) on the podium – has not scheduled votes.
“We have not scheduled a voting session, but it is likely we will come back in mid-September to handle the budget votes and any other outstanding matters, including conference reports, concurrence votes, and veto overrides,” Lauren Horsch, a spokesperson for Berger, wrote in an email to WGHP.
She also said she didn’t know what Moore meant by “in the Senate.”
“The negotiations between Speaker Moore and Sen. Berger are largely completed, and now staff and budget writers in both chambers are working together to fill in the details of the budget,” she said.
These are the first snippets of news about the budget’s status as the General Assembly had no firm plans to vote on anything.
Since the first week of July, the only voting session was the wild, simultaneous and back-and-forth voting last Wednesday, when lawmakers overrode six vetoes by Gov. Roy Cooper and passed changes to elections laws.
The House had passed its version of the budget around Easter. The Senate followed with its plan in mid-May, which the House rejected on May 24. The chambers – both controlled by Republicans – have been negotiating ever since.
Those two budgets did vary greatly, including the amount of raises for teachers and state employees, but Moore and Berger have said most of the issues have been worked out.
Cooper and Democrats complain about how the delays affect Medicaid expansion and school funding (school years by state statute begin on Aug. 28).
“We feel all kinds of pressure to get this resolved. Not ready to comment on any final decisions or others, but to find a head of agency asking for additional funding is not an unusual concept that the legislature deals with,” Sen Ralph Hise (R-Alleghany), one of the budget chiefs in the Senate, told WNCN-TV earlier this month.
“They come to pass those kinds of bills that will hurt people and damage our economy,” Cooper said earlier this week. “And they’re passed only for political purposes and not do their job and pass a budget.”
State health officials earlier this week said the budget needed to be adopted by Sept. 1 to allow Medicaid coverage to expand by Oct. 1. Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley said further delays could push expansion to Dec. 1 or into 2024.
Berger has said that spending the $1.8 billion of new revenue tied to Medicaid expansion has been one key to the budget negotiations. The expansion of casino gambling, a controversial topic being debated across the state, is another factor.
“For those that have expressed concern about whether we’re going to do expansion, we’re planning to spend the money,” Berger told WNCN. “So, I think that means we’re going to do the expansion.”