Republican lawmakers say their proposed North Carolina budget addresses inflation with big worker raises while spending cautiously, after the state House approved the two-year plan Thursday.
The chamber voted 78-38 for the plan, which now goes to the Senate for consideration. The proposed budget would spend $29.8 billion during the fiscal year starting July 1 and $30.9 billion starting in July 2024.
The House backed the measure on an initial vote Wednesday following roughly three hours of debate. In both votes, nine Democrats joined all Republicans present in voting for the bill.
The bill would offer teachers a combined average raise of 10.2% over two years and rank-and-file state employees raises of more than 7.5%.
There are billions of dollars set aside for infrastructure and construction, and individual income taxes would be cut, largely through bigger standard deductions and per-child deductions for filers.
GOP legislators say the measure — totaling over 1,000 pages in spending and policy directives — attempts to keep North Carolina’s economy growing but also tries to fill state job vacancies and keep public workers from leaving for the private sector.
Democrats who voted against the budget bill said legislators could have done much more with public employee and teacher salaries given the state’s tax overcollections and large reserves. More than 25 amendments were considered over the two days of debate.
The Senate will approve its own version of the budget later this spring. The two chambers ultimately will work out a final bill to present to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. He proposed a budget last month that would have spent over $3 billion above what the House and Senate have agreed to spend in each year. Cooper criticized the House budget bill earlier this week.
Cooper’s influence over the budget already had been diminished after Republicans made General Assembly seat gains in November. Wednesday’s announcement that Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham of Mecklenburg County was switching to the Republican Party means the GOP now holds veto-proof majorities in both the House and Senate.
Republished with permission from The Associated Press.