by Cady Thomas
Budget Discussions Continue
The House is working to complete their budget by April 6th this year, a much faster timeline than in years past. With a $3.25 billion surplus before we see the April tax numbers, Republican leaders are looking to cut taxes rather than grow spending.
Last week, the House and Senate Base Budget Appropriations Committees met jointly and received the the following presentations from staff:
Timeline for the budget process:
Gov. Roy Cooper releases his budget proposal in March.
The House and Senate leadership typically will agree on a spending amount prior to releasing their budgets.
The House will pass their version and send it to the Senate.
The Senate will pass their version and send it back to the House.
House and Senate Appropriations Chairs and Leadership will work on a conference report which each chamber will vote on simultaneously.
Goes to the Governor who can sign, let become law without signature, or veto.
If veto – the chambers can vote to override this but the House Republicans are one vote shy of a supermajority.
NCDOT Cash Flow
NCDOT’s CFO Stephanie King told legislators they are going to slow spending on engineering work and right-of-way purchases to ensure they are meeting the cash flow targets set by the NCGA.
The NCGA has invited Governor Cooper to give his State of the State address March 6 at 7pm. As this only occurs during the odd-numbered years, this will be the last address he gives during his term. It is expected that the governor will lay out his legislative priorities for the year and give some insight into what will be in his budget proposal.
Bills and Legislation
SB3 is making its way through the legislative process with its first vote on Feb. 28th in the Senate. The bill passed 36-10. This bill would legalize medical marijuana for people who suffer with things like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments. People who have chronic pain are not included in the list of allowable uses, nor is recreational use.
Numbers as of February 22, 2023:
3,459,600 total cases
843 people – 7 day average of those hospitalized (Continues to fall)
74% of adult population fully vaccinated, 63% of total population fully vaccinated
Overall, NC is doing very well in bringing down the number of COVID-19 cases this year. 90 counties are in the green zone and only one county is in the orange zone, down from 68 counties two months ago.
Other Important Items
The State Board of Community Colleges is putting renewed effort into training NC’s workforce. They are making a push for increased funding for initiatives and new funding models that encourage collaboration. This month they approved $2 million for truck driver programs at 9 colleges.
NCDEQ Adoption of Electric Truck Rules
NCDEQ is hoping to pass rules to increase the number of electric trucks and buses sold in NC by the end of 2023. The rulemaking was started after Governor Cooper issued Executive Order 271. The proposed rules require manufacturers to sell more eclectic trucks and buses weighing over 6,000 pounds, starting in 2027.