Wednesday, November 24 2021

North Carolina’s protracted budget negotiations will culminate next week with the House and Senate voting on a final spending plan, officials said on Wednesday. Gov. Roy Cooper has suggested he could sign it, although he won’t get everything he wants, especially the Medicaid expansion.

GOP Representative Jason Saine, a leading Lincoln County budget writer, and the Office of Senate Leader Phil Berger have confirmed votes are expected next week on one in two state government budgets years worked out between the two chambers.

Negotiations between Republican lawmakers and the Democratic governor gradually came to a halt when Cooper presented what has been described as his final offer last Friday, Saine said, and House and Senate leaders made adjustments earlier this week.

“We’ve exhausted conversations,” Saine said. But Cooper provided many contributions that should lead to the final bill.

A statement posted on Cooper’s Twitter account Wednesday said Republican leaders had informed him that the budget released early next week would contain “a number of the governor’s priorities that were proposed in his budget and discussed in them. negotiations in recent weeks, including increased education funding. ”

But he will leave out the wholesale extension of Medicaid coverage to the hundreds of thousands of low-income adults Cooper’s has been seeking since taking office in 2017, according to the tweet. House Speaker Tim Moore had previously said his caucus would not support the expansion, although Berger was prepared to accept it given the good situation.

An approved final measure would then be sent to Cooper’s office for review. Unlike the 2019 Budget talks, when Medicaid’s lack of expansion contributed to a Cooper veto and caused an impasse that was never fully resolved, the governor is keeping options open.

After reviewing the plan, Cooper “will make the decision to sign or veto the budget based on what’s best for the people of North Carolina,” the tweet said.

Pat Ryan, a spokesperson for Berger, also confirmed the expected action on the budget next week. He did not dispute the content of Cooper’s tweet.

Saine said Cooper’s willingness to sign the measure reflects what Saine sees as the serious budget negotiations that have taken place since Moore and Berger presented the governor with their first offer six weeks ago.

“Nobody went crazy, nobody left upset… nobody got everything they wanted,” Saine said, but “it seems to me that because of this he will seriously consider signing. the budget”.

Republicans may also have more leverage compared to 2019 due to levels of Democratic support for the original House and Senate budget bills approved this summer. Republicans would likely only need the votes of three House Democrats and two Senate Democrats to override a Cooper veto.

Saine said he was fairly confident in a successful waiver in part because Democrats who initially voted for the bill were involved in crafting a final package that “has a lot for everyone.”

A state government budget was supposed to be in place when the new fiscal year began on July 1. But a later tax filing deadline, massive revenue surplus and billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief have made it harder to create spending plans and negotiate them.


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