Greetings From Raleigh 8-12-05
I am happy to report that we have a state budget for the 2005-07 biennium. Final approval to a $17.2 billion spending plan came after weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate. The budget bill, SB 622, provides much-needed funding for education, health care, and public safety, all of which are vitally important to improving our state's economy and creating new jobs. The House gave its initial approval of the budget on Tuesday night by a vote of 60-59 and final approval on Wednesday afternoon with a vote of 61-59. Senate approval came on Wednesday along party lines, 28-20, and on Thursday by a vote of 28-20.
The final budget agreement provides much-needed funding for our state's K-12 schools, community colleges and universities and restores Medicaid and public safety cuts that were included in the original Senate budget, which was passed in May. This week's passage of the two-year spending plan marks the end of the budget process in the legislature, which began several months ago. We must still complete work on numerous other pieces of legislation before adjourning for the year in the next week or two.
In addition to the budget, several major pieces of legislation were approved by the House yesterday. They included lobbying reform, voter verifiable paper trails, and the establishment of an Actual Innocence Commission, the first of its kind in the United States and modeled on a United Kingdom program. I will report in more detail next week on these and other items still in play.
As always, it continues to be an honor and a privilege to represent you in Raleigh.