This week, lawmakers acted on the budget bill and considered other bills on various topics. They then adjourned with a possible return to Raleigh on July 26.
Lawmakers pass state budget bill
Lawmakers passed the Finance Bill (H 103) on Friday with bipartisan support. The House passed the bill 82 to 25 and the Senate passed it 36 to 8. It is uncertain whether Governor Roy Cooper will sign it. He has 10 days from receipt of the invoice to make this decision.
The Finance Bill amends, among other things, the biennial budget (SL 2021-180) enacted in November 2021, which covered both financial years 22 and 23 (the “Biennium”).
Here are some highlights of the bill:
- Allocates $27.9 billion for FY23, an increase of 7.2% from FY22
- Adds funds to state’s Rainy Day Savings Fund to increase balance to $4.75 billion by end of FY23
- Transfers $1 billion to a new state inflation reserve in anticipation of an economic recession
- Establishes an $80 million labor market wage reserve for state agencies to address staffing shortages and help recruit and retain employees
- Provides a 3.5% salary increase for most government employees (6% increase over the biennium) and an average increase of 4.2% for teachers (6.7% average over the biennium). It also increases starting salaries for beginning teachers and provides funds for a state-funded teacher supplement.
- Provides an additional one-time supplement of 1% for a total of 5% over the biennium
- Funds an additional $1 billion over the FY22 amount for a total of $16.5 billion for all three levels of education
- Provides $3.9 million to cover co-payments for students who qualify for discounted lunches
- Transfers $431 million over the biennium from the North Carolina Education Lottery to the Public Schools Capital Construction Fund as needed
- Creates a recurring grant of $250,000 for schools to purchase feminine hygiene products in schools
- Provides an additional recurring $15 million for the School Resource Officer Grant Program, specifically for elementary and middle schools
- Provides an additional $32 million for School Safety Grants to support students in crisis, school safety training and school safety equipment
- Allocate $26M to provide a school resource officer for each secondary school
- Providing $5 Million for Cybersecurity and Bomb Threat Preparedness at Historically Black North Carolina Colleges and Universities
- Delivering $883 million for water supply and sanitation infrastructure projects, bringing the total for the biennium to $2.5 billion
- Providing $300 million to construct a new educational complex and the Governor’s Office in downtown Raleigh, as well as to renovate and demolish other downtown government buildings
- Provides $250 million for a reserve to help cover cost overruns for state capital projects due to inflation
- Provides $120.8 million in additional capital grants to local governments and nonprofit entities
- Redirects 2% of FY23 sales tax revenue, or approximately $193.1 million, to the Road Fund to support various transportation purposes. This figure increases to 6% (approximately $600 million per year) by FY25
- Provides an additional $5 million for GREAT Grants to expand broadband access to underserved areas, bringing the total to $20 million recurring
- Allocates $1.8 million from the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) grant to update and maintain voter lists and continue to improve voting technology and security enhancements
- Provides $1 million to identify other mega sites on which to set up major economic development projects
Although expanding Medicaid insurance coverage was not in the budget bill, both houses passed versions of it this summer. Governor Cooper and Senate Leader Phil Berger argued for immediate expansion, while the House’s approach was for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) to develop a plan to expansion, discusses it with the federal authorities this fall and brings back a plan. for a vote in December.
On June 2, the Senate passed a health care bill (H 149) that includes expanding Medicaid. It also includes things like expanding the scope of practice for some nurses, using telehealth, solving surprise medical billing, and changing the Certificates of Need Act, which governs the placement of nurses. certain medical facilities and equipment throughout the state. H 149 is pending before the internal regulations commission.
The House this week passed its own version of Medicaid expansion (S 408). President Tim Moore led the push for the bill.
The House bill would create a Joint Legislative Committee on Medicaid Rate Modernization and Savings that would hear a Medicaid modernization plan to be developed by NC DHHS by December 15, 2022. The bill outlines what that should be in the plan, such as coverage and financing details. . The committee would make recommendations on the plan and the General Assembly would act on all or part of it on or after December 16, 2022.
Although both bills remain eligible for the 2022 session, it is not certain that this subject will be considered again this year.
Confirmation of cabinet secretaries
The Senate this week unanimously confirmed the nominations of two members of Governor Cooper’s cabinet. They are: Eddie Buffaloe as Secretary of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Kody Kinsley of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Buffaloe is a former director of public safety in Elizabeth City and has served in sheriff’s departments and in corrections. Kinsley is a former deputy chief secretary of DHHS and previously served in Washington, DC, the White House, the Treasury Department and the US Department of HHS.
Legislators passed an adjournment resolution (S 917) that adjourns the session until July 26 and outlines a limited list of topics, such as bills vetoed by the governor, that can be considered at their discretion. return. While it’s unclear whether lawmakers will actually return for voting sessions, the resolution includes other dates throughout the fall when they could return.