CHAPEL HILL – Lawmakers in Raleigh are getting closer to a final budget for the state. The NC House of Representatives began crafting its own spending plan this week—following the Senate’s release of its $20.6 billion version last week.
Verla Insko—the state Representative for Orange County (Dem.)—says time is quickly running out to get the House budget approved by June 30, which is the end of the fiscal year.
“It’s such a rapid process. We really are not going to have time to have a full debate before the availability is set for the house budget,” Insko said.
Overall, Insko expects the House’s final budget to be less harsh that the Senate’s spending plan, which drew backlash on what some call drastic cuts across the board.
After the House subcommittees vote on the spending plan, it will go to the full budget committee, and then to the House floor.
“I understand that we are going to get a proposed House budget next week and we will be able to debate things at that point,” Insko said.
“But once the availability is set and the chairs of the Health and Human Services Appropriations committee, or any committee, establish their budget—then it’s very difficult to get anything changed.”
Insko says the House’s budget will be less harmful on the education front than the Senate’s.
“I’m hearing that the cap on class size will remain. That’s a really critical one.”
She’s says there’s also a chance that the House’s proposal maybe be able to afford teacher’s a 1 percent raise. But she still warns there will be unavoidable “significant cuts to education.”
And the 2012 election saw the first time in 140 years that Republicans controlled the governor’s mansion and both chambers of the General Assembly. Insko, a democrat, says it’s been an adjustment to work against the majority.
‘This is the second term I’ve been in the minority—we’re learning how to do it because it’s completely different role.”
Heading into next week’s budget debates, she also concerned about the lack of funding for group and mental health homes—hurting those who don’t qualify for Medicaid. Insko says a long term solution hasn’t been addressed, but she hopes to see $5-10 millions dollars budgeted as bridge money in the meantime.