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NC Senate presents budget

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North Carolina Senate leaders presented their budget Monday, weeks after Gov. Pat McCrory presented his.

The Senate budget does not include money for victims of eugenics.

And they don't want pay raises for state employees, including teachers, for next year.

McCrory budgeted funds for both of those.

The GOP budget-writers unveiled a plan that would spend $20.6 billion for the year starting July 1, about the same McCrory wants. But there are differences in priorities.

The rising costs of Medicaid is hurting the state, they said. Senators said their the proposal must set aside $1.2 billion in additional funds through mid-2015 for Medicaid expenses.

Sen. Pete Brunstetter of Forsyth County said the budget's attempts to get costs under control within the health insurance plan prevented senators from offering pay raises for state employees next year. McCrory's budget includes 1 percent raises.

At Monday's news conference announcing the budget plans were Senators Brunstetter, Neal Hunt and Harry Brown.

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The Senate spending plan also contains measures from Senate leader Phil Berger that would eliminate teacher tenure and start a merit-pay system in the fall of 2014.

The budget also would raise Medicaid spending by well over $300 million next year compared to this year.

As mentioned above, the budget does not include dollars for eugenics victims, despite support  from other Republican leaders. Both House Speaker Thom Tillis and McCrory have said they want the state to compensate victims (as evidenced in the Governor's budget).

McCrory has said of eugenics, "The longer you put off paying for these types of things, the more damage you do. I feel strongly that should be included in the budget for both the House and Senate."

But Berger told WNCN then that there was no support for eugenics compensation the previous year in the Senate, and that he questioned whether North Carolina had the money available in a tight budget year to pay for it.

McCrory said of the budget proposal, "We are very pleased the Senate's budget proposal aligns with some of our major priorities and specific goals with jobs, energy, transportation and Medicaid. However, there are several areas that need further dialogue as they differ from the budget and policies I have previously laid out."

Those areas of concern, McCrory's statement said, include:

  • Elimination of Special Superior Court judges
  • Transfer of the SBI
  • Exclusion of drug treatment courts
  • No salary increases for state employees
  • No expansion of pre-K
  • No eugenics compensation
  • Does not allow for routine legal services in each agency

"Today is the second step of a four-part budget process," McCrory said, referring to the fact that the governor, Senate and House all have to submit proposals.

"These differences are still within the general parameters of our goals, and we look forward to working with the Senate and also reviewing the House budget proposal in the coming weeks."

Democratic reaction to the N.C. Senate budget proposal:

"It is easy to say that you're going to slow the growth in spending," said SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope, "but when our roads, schools and prisons are falling apart, and when salaries and benefits for our public sector jobs are not competitive with the private sector, and when population growth continues to increase resulting in even greater demands on public services, you're asking for a disaster."

- Dana Coope, Executive Director of the State Employees Association of North Carolina

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