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NC Budget Stalemate Enters Third Week

The stalemate over North Carolina’s budget enters its third week. Some progress has been made in the negotiations. But at a committee meeting Monday leaders of the House showed just how far they are from a deal with their Senate counterparts.

Both chambers have been tinkering with dollar amounts and allocations in their respective budgets. But House Senior Budget Chairman Nelson Dollar laid out the gap between the House and Senate plans in real dollars. $333 million to be precise. It's around 1.5 percent of the $21 billion budget both chambers are putting forward.

But that 1.5 percent also represents major philosophical differences between the two Republican controlled bodies. Specifically in three areas.

The first, how big a raise teachers should get? Dollar said the house has upped their plan from a 5 percent pay increase to 6 percent.  As for the Senate? "They have remained at 11 percent and have not moved."

The Senate would pay for that raise by cutting teaching assistants positions, which is the second major sticking point. The House not only wants to keep the teaching assistants, Representative Dollar said they now want more of them. "That includes putting on the table $19.8 million in expansion of teaching assistants."

The final sticking point said Dollar, funding for the department of health and human services, which includes Medicaid.

Since last week, said Dollar, the senate has increased the amount of money it would cut from the health and human services budget. They would reduce or cut services to some 16,000 older, blind and disabled North Carolinians in long term care facilities and more than 20,000 others who receive care at home home or in a community setting.

And since the state only pays a portion of Medicaid costs, Representative Dollar said under the Senate’s plan North Carolina would actually see a cut of $633 million once federal grants are figured in.