The Latest: N Carolina Senate gives initial OK to budget

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a final budget deal by the North Carolina General Assembly for the next two years (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

The state budget deal negotiated by General Assembly Republicans has passed its first vote in North Carolina.

The Senate voted 38-11 for the two-year spending plan Tuesday after only about 40 minutes of floor debate. A final Senate vote is expected Wednesday. The House will begin two days of voting on Wednesday as well.

A few Senate Democrats joined all Republicans voting in support of the measure despite criticisms of the spending plan by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

But most Democrats voted no, including Sen. Gladys Robinson of Greensboro. She says Republicans prioritized tax cuts over public education.

Republican Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden says the plan provides the appropriate balance between spending for services and allowing taxpayers to keep more of their money.

__

1 p.m.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper says the budget agreement reached by Republicans at the General Assembly is fiscally irresponsible. Cooper cold be poised to veto it unless GOP lawmakers turn against the two-year spending plan that their colleagues wrote.

Cooper held a news conference Tuesday to criticize the measure, which will get its first votes later in the day. He says the final plan failed to do better on public school teacher pay even though House and Senate lawmakers agreed to spend $130 million more than their competing plans called for after final negotiations.

Cooper also criticized tax cuts in the final proposal because they benefited highest wage-earners and corporations. Those tax changes wouldn’t take effect until 2019 but also benefit low- and middle-income tax filers.

When asked if he would veto the final budget, he first urged Republicans to vote against it but said “this budget is wrong for North Carolina.”

__

11:35 a.m.

The state budget deal reached by Republicans at the North Carolina General Assembly contains much that lawmakers will support but plenty that could cause Democrats such as Gov. Roy Cooper to oppose the plan.

The Senate was expected late Tuesday to hold the first of two votes on the final two-year spending plan. The House could follow Wednesday.

The agreement reached by House and Senate GOP negotiators includes pay raises for teachers and state employees and a retiree pension increase. There’s also more money for at-risk 4-year-olds to attend preschool.

But the measure doesn’t spend as much as Cooper wanted, and he’s unhappy with tax cuts again benefiting the wealthy and corporations. And during a time of surpluses, Republicans directs that spending in Cooper’s office be reduced by 10 percent.