House budget plan modest, targeted

| May 16, 2015

Laura Leslie, WRALby Laura Leslie, WRAL, May 14, 2015.

While many details of the state House’s budget remain incomplete, the broad outlines of the nearly $22 billion proposal unveiled Thursday morning in committees show few major changes in the state’s largest spending areas, education and health care, aside from targeted investment in specific expansion items.

In education, overall spending increased by a little over 3 percent. The funding plan accounts for enrollment growth in public K-12 schools as well as universities and community colleges. As drafted, the plan would put more money into a pair of scholarship programs that help poor and disabled students attend private schools, put more money into textbooks and restore funding for driver’s education in the state’s high schools.

Health spending also increased modestly. The biggest expansions are around $30 million in additional funding for mental health, $20 million in one-time money to help spur development of community hospice facilities and about $6 million to expand foster care programs. Growth in Medicaid enrollment, known as the “rebase,” would add about $287 million, or 7.8 percent over last year’s state Medicaid budget.Some policy areas saw substantial funding increases. The plan would invest tens of millions of dollars in prison mental health, for example, and would set aside millions for port maintenance and improvements. The court system would receive $12 million for information technology improvements.

The plan also includes placeholders for some major policy initiatives that have yet to be decided. The Health and Human Services budget sets aside $2.5 million for Medicaid reform, although lawmakers have not yet decided what form the overhaul will take and Senate leaders have talked about a much larger set-aside for Medicaid reform. The Transportation budget sets aside $50 million for debt service for 2016-17 for the transportation bond that Gov. McCrory is seeking, even though lawmakers haven’t yet agreed to put the issue before voters.

Some big questions still remain unanswered, such as raises for state employees and teachers and the restoration of the medical expense tax credit for senior citizens. Those items were not among the budget sections unveiled Thursday. They’re in a separate area of the budget that won’t be available until the full document is rolled out late Sunday or early Monday.


Category: Politics, SPIN Blog

Comments (2)

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  1. Richard L Bunce says:

    Continuing to fund failed government programs, even increasing their funding, just not as much as the other guys want, is not what having a smaller, limited, constitutional government is about. Rewarding incompetence will only lead to more incompetence.

  2. Norm Kelly says:

    Still not sucking down the socialized medicine pill forced upon us by the socialists in Washington? Good. That’s one pill that we definitely don’t need to swallow. It will simply cost more & more & more & eventually lead to either failure of the system or bankruptcy of the system. Either way, it will have the desired effect of the Washington socialists: a full take-over of the medical industry in the nation, what socialists like K call ‘single payer system’. Which is simply ‘nice speak’ that socialists use to disguise socialized medicine in it’s entirety. A step that should NEVER be taken in what’s supposed to be a free nation and which would expand the central planners well beyond the limits set on them by the U S Constitution. The rest of us remember that document. It specifically spells out the responsibility of the central planners, and reserves ALL OTHER responsibility to the individual states. What used to be called ‘states rights’. And is now called ‘anarchy’ by socialists like the ever-senile Harry.