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Charlotte Area News

NC Budget Details Finally Made Public

budget.jpg

Details on how state lawmakers will pay for their proposed $21.3 billion budget were finally made public late Wednesday night.  

The budget relies on a combination of cuts, re-allocations and an increased reliance on federal tax dollars to finance the state’s 2015 fiscal year.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

  • The budget pays for teaching assistants by taking just over $113 million from the lottery.
  • It calls for just under $42 million to go toward decreasing the size of kindergarten and first grade classes.
  • The budget cuts spending on for school transportation, at risk students and cuts administrative spending for the Department of Public Instruction by 10 percent.
  • It also orders the State Board of Education to authorize two new virtual charter schools. Critics of virtual charter schools have raised concerns over their quality and oversight.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

  • The plan calls for an 18 percent increase in funding for foster care programs.
  • It also raises the threshold to qualify for child care subsidies, increases child care co-pays, and relies on federal grants, rather than state money to pay for the $21.5 million program.
  • The budget also cuts Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals by an additional 1 percent.

In terms of federal tax money, more than a dozen programs will now be financed entirely by federal grants.
PUBLIC SAFETY

  • The proposed budget moves the State Bureau of Investigation from being the Department of Justice to the Department of Public Safety.
  • Lawmakers would also extend a ban on the use of drones by state or local governments through the end of 2015.

House rules require a budget to be made public for two days before the chamber can vote on the measure. Since the budget was made public around 11 pm Wednesday night, which still counts as being published on that day despite the late hour, the House could vote on the bill as early as Friday.
The Senate has no such requirement. They’ll vote on the budget Thursday morning, just hours after hard copies are handed out to the Senators.

Both chambers must vote for the budget twice before it goes to the governor.