The following legislative report is provided by Smith Anderson, Public and Government Affairs (www.smithlaw.com):
The House and Senate convened at noon Wednesday for the start of what promises to be another trying session of the N.C. General Assembly. Facing the need to cut more than $1 billion from the state’s budget for the next fiscal year, lawmakers are telling agency heads and nonprofit organizations to expect significant funding cuts. Their common refrain: We’ll do the best we can with the money we have, and hope for improvement next year. Meanwhile, some lawmakers, especially in the Senate, say they hope for a truly short “short” session this year, with adjournment likely in July. Their perhaps optimistic schedule has the Senate adopting a budget by May 20, with the House passing its version by June 10, then passage of a final budget by June 29 – some say with adjournment following as early as July 1. Longtime observers of the legislature expect the session to last two or three weeks longer than that.
GOVERNOR’S PROPOSED BUDGET
Gov. Beverly Perdue’s April 20 recommended budget began with this cautionary note: “My short session budget adjustments reflect a state facing continuing fiscal challenges. Even as our economy is showing signs of recovery, families across our state still worry about what the future holds. Like businesses and families statewide, North Carolina government is doing what it must in these tough economic times – tightening its belt, scrutinizing every expenditure, and taking care of the basics.” Gov. Perdue highlighted the state’s $1.2 billion shortfall, which she said resulted from lower than expected revenue and growth in entitlement expenses. The governor’s proposed budget relies on receiving $550 million more in federal Medicaid funds and cuts spending by about $950 million – a reduction of 5 to 7 percent from this year’s levels, varying by department.
You can read the governor’s proposed budget here.