The state House has given preliminary approval to a hotly debated plan to sweep money from about 20 state accounts and capture payments headed for three funds supported by the 1998 national tobacco settlement.
The state has a projected $2.7 billion budget hole to fill next year (revised on Wednesday from $3.7 billion), and sweeping up unspent money is one of the ways Republicans propose building a reserve. The bill also gives Gov. Bev Perdue the authority to order state agencies to find savings of at least $400 million.
The Senate passed the bill, SB 13, last week.
Backed by the Republican majority, the bill passed 66-51 after a three-hour debate. A final vote will come on Thursday.
House Democrats fought the bill, but did not have the votes to stop it. Perdue has been vexed by a part of the bill that takes about $67.5 million headed to the Golden LEAF foundation, and about $8.2 million left in accounts the state uses for business incentives.
Perdue and other Democrats have signaled that a veto is possible because they say those monies help create jobs.