Under the Dome

There are glimpses of a temporary budget deal as deadline looms

The state’s current budget — which pays for everything from schools to parks to social assistance — expires on Tuesday night.

While lawmakers have yet to agree on a new spending plan for the next year, they hope to act before the end of Tuesday on a short-term deal to avert problems that occur with no budget in place, including some shutting down of agency functions.

Senate negotiators Monday afternoon appeared upbeat about the possibility of such a “continuing resolution” in place by the deadline, but could not offer details on whether it will simply continue the state’s current budget or adjust its numbers.

The House and Senate must agree to a single plan before they can send it to the governor for signing. Decisions were expected later Monday or into Tuesday.

Sen. Brent Jackson, a Sampson County Republican, emerged around 4 p.m. Monday after meeting with fellow senators and the state’s budget director, Lee Roberts. Jackson said he believed a deal could be in place by Monday night, or “hopefully by (Tuesday) morning.”

A short time later, the House Appropriations Committee, whose chairs have been negotiating the continuing resolution, scheduled a meeting for a “bill to be announced” after the House convenes and holds a recess Monday. The House is scheduled to go into session at 7 p.m.

“The outlines of an agreement are there,” State Budget Director Lee Roberts said, though he noted the details will have to air in caucus meetings, which may affect final drafts.

The state’s fiscal year ends on Tuesday and without a new budget in place, government can’t legally spend money. Because it’s common for the N.C. General Assembly to run past deadline in developing a new budget, the continuing resolution is meant to serve as a temporary extension to the expiring one.

According to the legislature’s Fiscal Research Division, this would be the seventh year with a continuing resolution out of the past 10 years.

Lawmakers did not seem concerned about ending the fiscal year without a stopgap in place.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall seemed certain, saying that, in the next hours, “The CR gets done.”

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