McCrory signs NC budget after House gives final approval

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP, WNCN) – Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday morning that he signed the North Carolina state budget bill negotiated by fellow Republicans at the legislature this summer.

The North Carolina House debated the $21.7 billion budget Thursday night and approved it on a first vote around 9:45 p.m.

That vote, which passed 80-35, was followed by a second vote in the early morning hours Friday. That vote passed 81-33.

The budget previously passed the Senate.  After the vote early Friday morning, McCrory announced he signed the budget around 10:30 a.m.

Republican Speaker of the House Tim Moore released the following statement on the final passage of House Bill 97, 2015 Appropriations Act:

“I am proud of my colleagues this evening for helping to pass this conservative budget.  We’ve increased base pay for all beginning teachers, fully funded Education K-12 enrollment growth, put additional money in our state’s rainy day fund and demonstrated a priority of reinvesting in North Carolina’s basic infrastructure.

“Over the past nine months we have developed a comprehensive spending plan that lays the groundwork for historic Medicaid reform, a statewide bond package and continued tax reform.  This budget is a great example of what can happen when patience and prudence are used when deciding how to spend our state’s taxpayers’ dollars.”

Senators held their affirmative votes Tuesday and Wednesday.

House Republicans on Thursday highlighted increased spending for public education and $600 million for reserves and government building repairs in urging colleagues to vote for the plan. But several Democrats said the budget fell short on teacher and state employee pay and expanding the sales tax for repairs and installations.

McCrory told the AP last weekend he had concerns about provisions that would expand the number of transactions subject to the sales tax. Local tax proceeds largely would be distributed to assist small and rural counties.

McCrory also said in an interview Thursday there is no way he would threaten shutting down normal government operations through a budget veto because of some disagreements involving a budget that spends well over $21 billion this fiscal year. A temporary spending measure expires Friday night. The budget is 11 weeks late.

The governor says he still doesn’t like how legislators’ spending plan expands the sales tax to cover more services, then distributes proceeds disproportionately to small and rural counties. But he says it’s better than an earlier plan in which urban and destination counties would have lost tax revenue.

REACTIONS TO BUDGET

“We are grateful to the legislative leadership for their continued commitment to address the needs of the UNC system in FY15-16. The current year’s budget funds many of our top legislative priorities, including enrollment growth, operating reserves for new buildings, and stabilization funding for Elizabeth City State University and East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine,” said UNC President Tom Ross.

“The budget for the current year is the best the UNC system has seen in recent years,” said UNC Board of Governors Chair John Fennebresque. “We particularly appreciate the additional carry-forward authority granted to University, which will enable our campuses to find new efficiencies and direct resulting savings towards critical needs. We thank the General Assembly for this tangible show of confidence in the Board of Governors. We look forward to working closely with legislative leaders in the months ahead to ensure that any bond proposal adopted is successful.”

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