Pricey Harrison

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Budget Update 05-31-05

Members of the House Appropriations Committee continued working last week on their budget proposal. The House will continue to work and debate its spending plan in the coming weeks, with final passage expected during the second or third week of June. Legislators hope to be able to work out the differences between the House and Senate budgets prior to July 1 when the new fiscal year begins.

Numerous criticisms of the Senate budget, which was passed several weeks ago, have caused House members to search for ways to correct their harmful cuts to Medicaid, crime control programs, including drug courts, and other vital programs. In addition, the House has expressed concern over the Senate's action to make the temporary sales tax increase permanent and reduce taxes for the state's most wealthy individuals and corporations. House budget writers have said that many changes will be made in coming weeks as the House prepares its spending plan.

The Senate reduced the growth of Medicaid - the government health program for low-income children, elderly, and the disabled - by $127 million more than Governor Easley recommended in his budget proposal. Other details of state spending preferred by House members include setting aside about $40 million more than the Senate for state employee salary increases.

House budget-writers also now project the state will collect an additional $450 million in revenue, which will reduce the budget shortfall to approximately $1 billion.

I remain committed to adequately funding education, health and human services, transportation, public safety, the environment, and efforts to further strengthen our economy and create jobs.

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