North Carolina Republicans still negotiating final budget

Tim Moore, Phil Berger
FILE - In this Tuesday, March 28, 2017 file photo, Republican leaders Rep. Tim Moore, left, and Sen. Phil Berger, hold a news conference in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina Republican lawmakers said Wednesday night that they have an agreement with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on legislation to resolve a standoff over the state's "bathroom bill." Details about the replacement weren't immediately available, Moore and Berger declined to take questions during a brief news conference. (Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — House and Senate Republicans are still negotiating over a final state budget that’s supposed to take effect July 1, with their views on tax breaks still among the significant differences.

Top GOP chamber leaders said talks on the two-year plan were continuing Thursday. Legislators took procedural actions so that both chambers could vote on any final compromise early next week, but it wasn’t clear whether work would be completed by early this weekend to do that.

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“We are still discussing some differences that we have,” Senate leader Phil Berger of Rockingham County told reporters. “They are difficult for us to get resolution on at this point, but we’re still working. I am optimistic that we’ll get there.”

The House and Senate passed competing proposals this spring, each of which purports to spend $22.9 billion in the first year. But the rival plans had dozens of dissimilarities, including line-item expenses and policy changes.

Berger said hammering out a final tax plan within the budget was still being discussed, along with other items.

Both chambers want to raise the standard deduction for individual income tax filers. But while the Senate budget also cut individual and corporate income tax rates, House Republicans preferred targeted tax breaks for industries. The House tax package was less expensive to implement — about one-third of the Senate’s $1 billion-plus in tax breaks through mid-2019.

House Speaker Tim Moore of Cleveland County said Thursday the sides had made progress on taxes and was hopeful for a resolution on the entire budget soon.

“We are drawing closer and we’re seeing if we can get there,” Moore told colleagues.

Any final budget bill approved by legislators will head to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who has expressed concerns with the spending plans from both chambers, which hold veto-proof GOP majorities. So any Cooper veto could be overturned if Republicans remain united.

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