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An in-depth look at our region's emerging economic, social, political and cultural identity.

Budgets Passed, Haggling Begins For NC Governor, House And Senate

Governor Pat McCrory, the state House and Senate have significant differences to work out before North Carolina adopts a budget. WFAE's Michael Tomsic looks at three examples of those differences: teacher pay, film incentives and Medicaid.

All three budgets include raises for teachers, but what are the differences?

The Senate's plan would raise teacher pay by an average of 11 percent. That's the biggest raise among the three budgets, but there's a catch: teachers would have to give up tenure, which many of them see as a crucial job protection. And the Senate funds the raise primarily by cutting the number of teacher assistants in half.

The House raises teacher pay by 5 percent and does not require teachers to give up tenure. House members plan to pay for that raise mainly through the lottery. They want to increase advertising for it so that more people gamble, and then the state gets more revenue. Ironically, many of the lawmakers behind this strategy say that they're against gambling in principal. 

And then Governor McCrory's plan is to increase teacher pay an average of 2 percent. In his plan, teachers can keep their tenure, and he'd pay for the raise in part through cuts to the UNC system.

We've also been reporting on North Carolina's film incentive program this week, which will expire if the governor and lawmakers can't reach an agreement. Where does that stand?

The House and Senate both want to change it into a grant program to save the state money. Under the current incentive program, if productions spend a certain amount of money in North Carolina, they automatically get incentives. But under the grant program, productions would have to apply for money with no guarantee that they'd actually get it. 

The governor's plan is to stick with incentives instead of grants. But he would increase what productions have to spend to get incentives and slash the cap on how much they can get back.

And Medicaid is always one of the most expensive parts of the state budget. What are the plans for it?

The Senate wants to change it dramatically, cutting eligibility for about 15,000 people and putting an insurance company (or something like it) in charge of managing the program.

Governor McCrory is against that idea. He has his own overhaul he's trying to pass through legislation rather than the budget. It would give groups of doctors and hospitals more responsibility in managing care and cutting costs.

The House budget doesn't say much about overhauling Medicaid, but some representatives say they're interested in passing the governor's plan. 

When will we get the final budget?

The governor, House and Senate plan to work out their differences in the next week or two.

Mark Rumsey grew up in Kansas and got his first radio job at age 17 in the town of Abilene, where he announced easy-listening music played from vinyl record albums.