GOP leaders at North Carolina General Assembly announce deal on budget plan

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RALEIGH, NC (WECT) — Republican leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly announced on Tuesday that they have reached agreement on a spending plan for the 2022-23 fiscal year. Known as the Finance law 2022House Bill 103 is on schedule for consideration in the state Senate on Thursday, June 30.

“This is a responsible budget that meets our current needs and our plans for an uncertain economic future,” said House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and Senate Leader Phil Berger (R -Rockingham) in a press release emailed from Berger’s office. . “This budget takes into account the pressure of our federal government’s frantic spending that is stretching the budgets of the people of North Carolina, as well as the burden of soaring fuel prices and inflation. It is imperative that we stay on track and continue the good work we have done in North Carolina to strengthen our economy, meet the needs of our citizens, and ensure a bright future for our state.

The compromise budget plan must pass through both the State House and the Senate, and be signed by Gov. Roy Cooper (D-North Carolina), before it goes into effect.

Governor Cooper posted on social media ahead of the Senate Leader’s Office release:

Here are the highlights of the bill, as noted in the release from Senate Leader Berger’s office:

Topline

Net Vote for fiscal year 2022-23 is $27.9 billion, an increase of 7.2% over fiscal year 2021-22.

· The Rainy Day Fund balance will be $4.75 billion at the end of the biennium.

· Transfers $1 billion to a newly created state inflation reserve in anticipation of a recession.

Wages

· Establishes an $80 million labor market wage reserve for state agencies to address staffing shortages and help recruit and retain skilled employees.

· A salary increase of 3.5% for most government employees, representing a 6% increase over the biennium.

· On average, teachers will receive a salary increase of 4.2%, bringing the average salary increase for teachers to 6.7% over the biennium. Over the biennium, including bonuses, teachers will receive an average of 14.2% additional remuneration.

· Increases the starting salary of new teachers.

· Non-certified public school employees, such as bus drivers, will receive either a 4% wage increase or a $15/hour raise, whichever is greater.

· An additional $70 million in publicly funded teacher salary supplement. This brings the total amount to $170 million. The budget increases the cap on the publicly funded teachers’ supplement to $5,000.

· Provides an additional one-time supplement of 1% to retirees for a total of 5% over the biennium.

Maintains the enhanced COVID rates that the Department of Health and Human Services paid to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Education

· Funds an additional $1 billion over the amount in fiscal year 2021-22 for a total of $16.5 billion.

· Includes $3.9 million to cover co-payments for students who qualify for discounted lunches.

· Funds 124 additional literacy coaches and early learning specialists to assist with early literacy efforts.

· A transfer of $431 million over the biennium from the NC Education Lottery to the Public Schools Capital Construction Fund based on need. Over the next 6 years, $2.6 billion is expected to be spent on school capital.

· Expands the income level requirements for the Opportunity Scholarship Program so that more families can send their children to a school of their choice. The new income eligibility level is equal to or less than 200% of the amount required for a free or reduced price lunch.

· Allocates an additional $56 million in recurring funds to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant pool, for a total of $150.8 million that can be awarded to families eligible for the scholarship.

· Provides an additional recurring $16.3 million to the Student Accounts Program for the Personal Education of Children with Disabilities, to clear the program’s waiting list. Total program funding for fiscal year 2022-23 is $47.9 million.

· Creates a recurring grant of $250,000 for schools to purchase feminine hygiene products in schools.

school safety

· Provides an additional recurring $15 million for the School Resource Officer Grant Program, specifically for elementary and middle schools.

Increases state matching for the School Resource Officer Grant Program for low-income school districts to $4 for every $1 of non-state funds. All other school districts will be eligible for a state match of $2 for every $1 of non-state funds.

· Provides an additional $32 million for School Safety Grants to support students in crisis, school safety training and school safety equipment.

· Allocate an additional $26 million to the At-Risk Allowance to reflect the current salary required to provide one School Resource Officer for each secondary school.

· Provides $5 million for cybersecurity and bomb threat preparedness at North Carolina HBCUs.

· Requires the Center for Safer Schools to gather data on existing school safety systems, policies and procedures, and to report to the General Assembly information and recommendations for improving school safety.

Fixed Assets/Infrastructure

Provides $883 million for water supply and sanitation infrastructure projects, bringing the total amount available for water supply and sanitation infrastructure for the biennium to 2.5 billions of dollars.

· Provides $300 million to build a new education complex and the Governor’s Office in downtown Raleigh, and to renovate and demolish other downtown government buildings.

· Includes $250 million for a reserve to help cover cost overruns for state capital projects due to inflation.

· Provides $120.8 million in additional capital grants to local governments and not-for-profit entities.

Other items

· Redirects 2% of sales tax revenue – approximately $193.1 million – to the Road Fund to support various transportation purposes, increasing to 6% in 2024-25 and beyond. This is the first step in dealing with declining transportation revenues to keep up with population growth.

· Provides an additional $5 million for GREAT Grants to expand broadband access to underserved areas. This brings the amount of GREAT Grants to recurring $20 million. The state expects to receive at least $100 million from the Federal Infrastructure Jobs and Broadband Investments Act.

Transfers $950 million to the National Emergency Response and Disaster Relief Reserve, of which $215.8 million is earmarked for disaster recovery efforts from previous events and mitigation efforts to recover prepare for future floods and natural disasters.

· Increases reimbursement rates for NC Pre-K providers by 5%. Private child care centres, which were due to receive a 4% rate increase using funds from the 2021 Appropriation Act, will now receive a 9% reimbursement rate increase in the 2022-23 financial year.

· Allocates $1.8 million from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant to update and maintain voters lists and continue to improve voting technology and security enhancements.

· Providing $1 million to the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership’s Megasites Readiness Program to identify additional megasites in North Carolina.

· Allocates $1 million to support Fayetteville State University’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

WECT News will provide reaction to the bill from other lawmakers as we receive it.

Copyright 2022 WECT. All rights reserved.

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