The Latest: House gives tentative approval to budget bill

NC House gives final approval on budget plan (Image 1)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the North Carolina House debating a proposed two-year state government spending plan (all times local):

10:30 p.m.

The North Carolina House has given its preliminary approval to the two-year budget plan written by Republicans.

The 82-34 vote Thursday night came after more than six hours of debate and actions on nearly 40 amendments. A second and final required vote was scheduled during a session to begin early Friday shortly after midnight.

The measure would spend $22.9 billion next year. A revenue surplus this year helped House GOP leaders boost savings, and repair and renovation funds in the plan. There are pay raises for teachers and state employees and a small across-the-board income tax break.

Democrats complained that the measure failed to address critical needs even when the money was available to meet them. But a dozen Democrats still joined nearly all Republicans in voting for the plan.

Thursday’s vote marks the next step toward House and Senate Republicans passing a final budget before July 1.

___

8:30 p.m.

North Carolina House members are still weighing in on the proposed state budget written by the chamber’s Republicans.

The House debated more than 30 amendments on the two-year spending plan before taking a break Thursday night. They were expected to take an initial vote on the entire plan later in the evening, with a final vote early Friday.

Republicans defeated or used parliamentary maneuvers to stop Democratic amendments that would have funded programs sought by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Some would have diverted money for taxpayer-funded scholarships for private school tuition to hire more teachers or school staff.

The House approved a Republican amendment that earmarks $5 million to boost substance abuse services, with a focus on treating opioid addiction.

The Senate already has passed a two-year budget proposal. The House and Senate ultimately will hammer out a compromise plan to present to Cooper.

___

4:10 p.m.

The full North Carolina House is wading through the state government budget proposal offered by Republican members, who say it marks a balanced approach by covering important services and giving more tax relief to citizens.

Debate on the measure began Thursday afternoon on the House floor and is expected to last several hours before the first of two required chamber votes is cast. Legislators also will consider amendments.

The House GOP plan spends $22.9 billion next year. It includes pay raises for teachers and state employees and an uptick in the standard deduction for income tax filers. Democrats call the plan disappointing and say Republicans should have backed several provisions recommended by Gov. Roy Cooper.

The GOP-controlled Senate already passed a rival budget plan. The two chambers will work late this month to get a final budget to Cooper’s desk.

___

3:50 a.m.

Negotiations by Republicans at the General Assembly to finalize a North Carolina state budget are starting to take shape as the House spending proposal goes to the chamber floor.

House GOP leaders scheduled debate and the first of two required votes Thursday on their budget, which would spend almost $23 billion next year, just like the Senate GOP budget measure approved three weeks ago. But the House proposal differs from the Senate in several spending and policy decisions. The Senate also seeks much deeper tax cuts than the House wants.

A final House vote was expected Friday. After that, House and Senate Republicans will hammer out a final budget bill to present to Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper, who has criticized the plans from both chambers.