While Republicans haggle over minor budget differences, neither offers “real competition” to the Cooper plan
Though there are several key sticking points between House and Senate versions of the budget that need to be negotiated, neither version holds a candle to the Cooper plan. As the Raleigh News & Observer said, Cooper’s budget offers a “better vision” for North Carolina.
Benefits for state retirees
The Senate budget provides no cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees, and the House version includes only a one-time bonus of 1.6 percent. When House Democrats tried to increase the cost-of-living adjustment for state retirees with an annual adjustment of 2 percent, Speaker Moore successfully tabled the amendment. With the House “adamant” to include the retiree bonus in the final budget, cost of living adjustments might become a sticking point between chambers.
Wind farm moratorium
The wind farm moratorium could be a deal breaker as the House might not have enough votes to override a Cooper veto if the final budget contains a moratorium. The Senate’s version of the budget includes a three-year moratorium on wind farms. Several key members of the House, including Rep. Bob Steinburg, said they could not support a budget with a wind energy moratorium.
School construction grants
The chambers do not agree on the greatest needs in education funding. The Senate’s budget included a $75 million fund that would help pay for school repair and construction in poor counties. The House directs more money toward financial aid for college students and K-12 buses instead.
The Senate wants to merge 100 county social services departments into 30 or fewer regional departments. There are House and Senate bills to make this move, but only the Senate included the policy change in their budget.
Certificate of need repeal
Lawmakers also disagree on the necessity of certificates of need for healthcare providers. The Senate’s budget repeals the requirement that hospitals get state approval for new facilities and major equipment purchases. The House sides with hospitals, who fear the repeal would allow specialists to take away patients.
While Republicans continue to argue over these specific line items and more, the Cooper budget stands apart as a better plan for North Carolina. As the N&O says, “Cooper’s budget is forward-looking, progressive and seems to help average working families while Republicans stay focused on the wealthy. […] The competing budgets tell the story. Only there’s no real competition here.”