Tryon Palace would get a reprieve, a prison in Bladen County would stay open, and the lieutenant governor would be able to keep his cellphone.
The legislature passed a measure Saturday that makes about three dozen changes to the budget they approved this week. One addition helps one of the five House Democrats who voted with the Republican majority to pass the budget and override Gov. Bev Perdue's veto.
The budget calls for closing four minimum-security prisons. The new bill, which makes "technical corrections" to the budget, specifies that the Bladen Correctional Center cannot be one of them. The Department of Correction would be prohibited from closing it for two years.
Rep. Bill Brisson, a Democrat who represents Bladen, said last month that he voted initially for the GOP-written budget because a House amendment prohibited the state from closing the Bladen prison. That prohibition was not written into the final budget the legislature passed. Now, it's back in writing.
Legislators pass a technical corrections bill after every budget that serves as a kind of clean-up bill. Sometimes the changes are the results of last-minute persuasion.
In the clean-up bill, the requirement that Tryon Palace, an important tourist destination in New Bern, become self-sufficient by mid-2014 would be dropped. The palace also would get an additional $500,000 next year, reducing its state budget cut from $1.5 million to $1 million, Kay Williams, Tryon's director, said.
"The impact is huge," she said. The additional money allows the palace to keep attractions open while working on a strategy to raise more private money.
The palace probably will have to begin charging for attractions that are now free, she said, and step up its outreach to donors.
"Clearly, there's been a sea change, and we recognize that," she said. "In some ways, it was where we were going naturally. We have always viewed ourselves as a public-private partnership."
The clean-up bill also allows Gov. Bev Perdue to keep the 18 jobs in her office that Republican legislators had targeted for elimination. Perdue still has to save $1.4 million, but she gets to decide what to cut. Among those targeted were spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson and Deputy Communications Director Mark Johnson.
The budget, which cut cellphone expenses in various departments by 25 percent to 30 percent, apparently cut too deep in Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton's office: One of the technical provisions adds money so Dalton can keep his phone.
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