The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

June 27, 2014

N.C. House, Senate looking to bridge state budget divide

Thursday, June 26, 2014 — RALEIGH – The N.C. House of Representatives officially passed its version of a $21 billion state budget on June 13 after several hours of contentious debate and two weeks after the Senate approved its own version of the spending plan.

The heavy lifting now begins, with the two chambers trying to hammer out a compromise budget before sending it to Gov. Pat McCrory for his approval.

Some might think that because Republicans control both the House and Senate, not to mention the governor’s office, that there would be more harmony between the two versions of the budget. While many of the differences are in style rather than substance, there are some key disagreements that will need to be ironed out.

One of the clearest examples of where the House and Senate agree on an issue in theory, but differ in the execution, is teacher pay raises.

The Senate’s budget would give teachers an 11 percent salary increase, but in order to qualify for that raise teachers would have to give up their tenure rights. The House, on the other hand, would offer teachers an average 5 percent raise, but not require current teachers to give up tenure in order to receive it.

Both budgets are in agreement when it comes to removing the State Bureau of Investigation from the purview of the Department of Justice, which is led by the state’s elected attorney general, and shifting control to the Department of Public Safety. The current attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper, opposes the move.

Other key differences include how to handle the state’s Medicaid program, whether or not to extend historic preservation tax credits, eliminating or reforming the state’s film incentives program and how to fund the teacher pay increases without raising taxes.

On teacher pay raises, the Senate proposes funding the higher salaries in large part by cutting teacher assistant positions, while the House would seek to tie teacher pay raises to an increase in lottery revenue by boosting the lottery’s advertising budget.

Each chamber’s budget was subject to hours of lengthy debate on the floor and dozens of amendments. With the budget now moving to conference committee, work will return behind the scenes as leaders gather to find points of compromise to ensure a finalized budget is sent to the governor before the end of the fiscal year on Monday.

Lawmakers appear optimistic that they will be able to meet that deadline. In fact, one of the Senate’s top leaders has already filed an adjournment resolution for Friday. While that is not necessarily binding, it does signal that the General Assembly leadership is eager to wrap up its legislative business for the year. And most members want to leave Raleigh as soon as possible so they can return home and hit the campaign trail in advance of the November elections.

With Republicans controlling the House, Senate and governor’s office, it will be interesting to see how the intraparty battle over the budget plays out. Even though they all play for the same team, there seems to always be friction when one party controls government.

For the Republicans in charge in Raleigh, it remains to be seen how wide the chasm is between the legislative chambers and the governor, and how difficult, or easy, it will be to negotiate that divide.

Brent Laurenz is executive director of the N.C. Center for Voter Education and a contributor to He can be contacted at

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Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

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