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NC Lawmakers Plan To Increase Spending By More Than A Billion Dollars In Budget

The North Carolina legislative office building

North Carolina lawmakers have introduced a plan to increase state spending by more than $1 billion.

The budget draft introduced Monday afternoon would grow starting teacher salaries, give state employees a 2% raise and put $120 million toward a film grant program. The $22.2 billion draft budget roughly represents a 5% increase compared to the current state spending plan.

The fiscal blueprint is a firm budget draft for the 2015-16 fiscal year, which begins July 1. It is a less firm proposal for the 2016-17 spending year.

The 185-page spending document includes the following:

  • Increasing starting teacher pay, from $33,000 to $35,000
  • Raising state employees wages by 2% - this includes all public school teachers
  • Paying for 2% cost of living adjustment for retired state employees
  • Raises for the Governor and Council of State members
  • $12.1 billion for education overall.
    This is the largest piece of the budget pie, and makes up public education, the UNC system and community colleges. The appropriation for public schools will increase by a total of $268 million, a rise of more than $33 million for the UNC system. It will also accrue about $11 million for the community college system.
  • Providing $120 million for a film grant program.
    A tax credit designed to lure film, TV shows and productions to the state expired in January. In response, the General Assembly allocated $10 million in film incentives earlier this year. It was quickly used on three productions and film officials have been asking for more. This proposal would put $60 million from the state’s surplus toward a grant program in the 2015-16 fiscal year, and add another $60 million appropriation in 2016-17, bringing the total to $120 million.
  • Earmarking $6.2 million to come up with a plan for North Carolina’s Medicaid program. The proposal designates $2.5 million next year and $3.7 the following fiscal year for lawmakers to devise an approach to transition away from the existing fee system.
  • Allocating  $21.9 million in the next fiscal year and $53 million the following year for dredging and modernization of ports in Morehead City and Wilmington.
  • $1.5 million for continued archeological work on excavation of Queen Anne's Revenge. Blackbeard’s ship currently rests in shallow water off the coast of Atlantic Beach/Fort Macon State Park.
  • $1.5 million in funds to contract with UNC-W and develop oyster brood stock to provide seed for aquaculture.

Let all that sink in for a moment. Those are just some of the pieces that make up the state's spending plan. The House plans to pass its budget draft by the end of the week.
This proposal comes between the Governor’s plan – laid out in March, and a spending draft from Senators – expected next month. 

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
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