NC House gives initial OK to budget adjustment

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) –

UPDATE – 6:35 p.m.

The House has given initial, bipartisan approval of recommended adjustments to the second year of North Carolina’s current two-year spending plan.

The chamber voted 103-12 Wednesday evening for the $22.2 billion legislation. Republican budget-writers used surplus tax collections and Medicaid savings to fund teacher and state employee pay raises, place $300 million in savings and put $164 million aside for building repairs and renovations.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall of Durham criticized the plan for not going far enough with pay raises and blamed artificial spending limits by GOP legislators.

Wednesday’s debate was less contentious compared to previous years and lasted less than four hours. A final House vote was expected Thursday before the legislation heads to the Senate for consideration.

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Lawmakers in the North Carolina House are debating what to do with your money as they prepare to take  their first vote on a proposed $22.2 billion budget.

The budget would come with a tax cut.

There are two schools of thought on the potential tax cut.

One is it would keep more money in taxpayers’ pockets.

The other is it would take that money away from the state, which could go to raises for teachers and state employees.
Raleigh resident Steve Krause said, “I’m all for lowering my tax bill.”

Raleigh resident Steve Krause said, “I’m all for lowering my tax bill.”

So is the Republican leadership in the House and Senate.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, a Republican from Randolph County, said, “Cutting taxes.  Taxes go down.  Revenue is increased.  All the time that we’ve done these tax cuts in the last four years.”

Part of the House budget proposal would increase the standard deduction on personal income tax.

For a married couple filing jointly next year, the first $16,000 of income would not be taxed.

Currently, the deduction is the first $15,500 of income.

For individuals, your first $8,000 dollars would not be taxed.

Currently, it’s $7,750.

Rep. Paul Luebke, a Democrat from Durham County, said,  “My concern is that we have very serious needs for our public school teacher salaries.  The budget, as we have it right now, does not give teachers as much as they deserve.”
Luebke and several other Democratic lawmakers are expressing concern with the Republicans’ plan.

And teachers are waiting to see what North Carolina does to raise their salaries. Ayisha Lewis, a teacher from Winston-Salem, said she quit being a stockbroker because she wanted to teach.

“I moved into teaching  because it’s an immediate reward every day,” Lewis said.

But how much teachers will be compensated remains to be seen.

“It all depends on where we place our value,” Lewis said.

Luebke and several other Democratic lawmakers are expressing concern with the Republicans’ plan.

The Democrats say, for 2017, it would cost North Carolina $25 million of revenue that could go to raises for teachers or state employees.

And, under the House plan, the deductions would increase until 2020.

Luebke asked, “Would I rather help our public school teachers or would I rather have a tiny tax cut?”

But Tillman likes cutting taxes.

“We give it back to the people.  They spend it.  The economy improves and we’ve got more revenue to work with,” he said.

The Senate is working on a bill that would boost the standard deduction even higher than the House proposal.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report
 

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