NC Senate to vote Thursday on $20.1 billion budget

lbonner@newsobserver.com June 13, 2012 

The state Senate tentatively approved a $20.1 billion budget along party lines Wednesday that includes an elementary literacy plan pushed by Republican leaders.

The budget gets a final Senate vote Thursday, then goes back to the House. Significant differences must be ironed out before a final legislative budget is approved by both chambers.

One of the main differences between the House and Senate proposals is that the House attempted to compensate for $259 million in federal stimulus money for schools that runs out in a few months, while the Senate did not. The Senate budget includes $84 million that local school districts can use for hiring, raises or performance pay.

The Senate budget includes a 1.2 percent raise for state employees, while the House budget has a one-time $250 bonus for state employees and teachers.

Republicans used a maneuver to kill a Democratic amendment that would have compensated eugenics victims and limited a new state tax break that wealthy professionals receive in favor of using the money for schools.

Sen. Dan Blue, a Raleigh Democrat, said he could not vote for a budget that sets the state back.

“We deserve something greater than a minimalist approach if we’re going to compete on the world stage,” he said.

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, reminded Democrats that the massive job losses they warned of as a consequence of the current budget did not materialize.

The budget expresses a vision for education, Medicaid and transportation, Berger said.

Bonner: 919-829-4821

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