by Becki Gray, John Locke Foundation and NC SPIN panelist, June 29, 2015.
The US Supreme Court issued an important ruling affecting same sex marriage in NC. Governor McCrory voiced concerned about tax change proposals. The House and Senate haggled over a budget compromise, unable to reach an agreement by the end of the fiscal year or even an agreement on a continuing resolution.
Last week at the General Assembly? Nope, actually that was two years ago.
But it’s being replayed this week as North Carolina’s lawmakers struggle with finding an agreement on a continuing resolution to keep state government going while they hammer out the differences in their proposals for North Carolina’s 2015-17 budget. The answer may be as simple as using the 2013 continuing resolution as a template for this year. Just about everything they need is already in place in Session Law 2103-184, an act authorizing the director of the budget to continue expenditures for the operation of government at a percentage of the level in effect on June 30, 2013.
The bill has just about everything they need for the 2015 version – allowing for the continued allocation of funds for current operations of state government with available funds. Employee salaries remain as they are for now, freezing automatic and step increases until changes are authorized by the General Assembly. No funds will revert or transfer to reserve accounts. Federal block grants will continue at the current levels and for those programs not in controversy between the two budget proposals. The Department of Health and Humans Services will go ahead and prepare and submit proposed Medicaid reductions to CMS. Public school enrollment will be fully funded and adjusted by the General Assembly if needed. Excess lottery receipts will stay put in the Education Lottery Fund for now. Shortfalls in Medicaid funding will be covered for now, but no more til the budget is passed.
SL 2013-184 was in effect for thirty days, giving the General Assembly time to work out the differences in their two proposals and in the end, passed a budget within 28 days. Everyone works better with a deadline but if additional time is needed, another continuing resolution can always be considered.
The important thing is to get it right. This General Assembly and this governor have shown a commitment to responsible fiscal management, turning the state around with balanced budgets, restoring savings and reserves, simplification and reduction in our tax system and fully funding the highest priorities of state government. The prospect of a state government “shut down” is pretty slim. Look for a continuing resolution that reflects that fiscal responsibility and a budget process with the end goal of a budget that continues to move North Carolina to more economic growth, more prosperity and more freedom.