RALEIGH — Lawmakers spent Tuesday, Oct. 8, advancing four mini-budget plans as the budget veto stalemate drags on into another month.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the $24 billion budget June 28. The N.C. House overrode the veto, but the Senate has yet to try.
In lieu of a full budget, Republican lawmakers have pushed forward mini-budgets to cover provisions that have bipartisan support. Several of these piecemeal budgets have already become law, including one to draw down federal dollars and another to provide money for disaster recovery efforts.
Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved a mini-budget providing funding for community colleges. Later that day, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved mini-budgets covering Raise the Age implementation and tax credit program extensions.
Meanwhile, the House voted to concur with a mini-budget ensuring funding for a rural broadband initiative. The bill passed, 106-2, and heads to the governor’s desk.
Here’s a rundown of the mini-budgets discussed Tuesday:
• House Bill 387, Growing G.R.E.A.T: The mini-budget provides funding for the 10-year Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology grant program. The program provides grants to support rural broadband infrastructure projects. H.B. 387 appropriates $15 million from the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund to the G.R.E.A.T. fund for each fiscal year starting from 2019-20 to 2028-29. The bill also expands the program to Tier 2 counties.
• Senate Bill 61, Community Colleges Budget/2019-2021 Biennium: N.C. Community Colleges would see about $1.2 billion in operating funds for each year of the biennium under S.B. 61. The bill provides funding for specific community college programs and lowers the required local matching funds for career coaches in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties. Pay raises for community college instructors and staff aren’t included in the bill. While the full budget included new capital funds, the mini-budget excluded the provision.
• House Bill 399, Extend Tax Credits/Other Finance Changes: H.B. 399 contains a laundry list of tax credit extensions, deduction adjustments, and appropriations to the N.C. Department of Revenue. The bill extends the sunset for the Historic Rehabilitation tax credit, the sales tax exemption for qualifying airlines, the sales tax exemptions for professional motorsports teams, and the Dry Cleaning Solvent program. H.B. 399 expands the Mill Rehabilitation tax credit. The NCDOR would receive $12.5 million in nonrecurring funds for fiscal 2019-20 for tax system upgrades and maintenance. More than $4 million in nonrecurring funds would be appropriated to the NCDOR for each fiscal year of the biennium to contract with a vendor to conduct identity theft and tax fraud analysis.
• House Bill 1001, Raise the Age Funding: H.B. 1001 provides money to implement Raise the Age, a criminal justice reform initiative raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to 18. The mini-budget allocates money to hire more assistant district attorneys and district court judges. Under the mini-budget, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Public Safety, and the Office of Indigent Defense Services would receive money to support implementation.