This week's newsletter focuses on the budget approved by the House earlier this morning. The $20.3 billion budget sends a powerful, unmistakable message that education remains our top priority. It addresses the needs of our students at all levels by increasing education spending an additional $1.3 billion, a considerable investment in the future of this state and our young people. We took particular care in this plan to ensure that we provide resources in public schools to those who need it most - poor people and those at risk of dropping out of high school. We also propose spending that would help our universities and community colleges remain the envy of the nation and recommend increasing access to these institutions by providing more need-based financial aid.
We also provide $100 million for Medicaid relief to the counties -- a substantial investment in lowering their burden.
The budget is one of the greenest budgets ever, with increased funding for conservation, environmental protection, and promoting energy alternatives and efficiencies.
At the same time, this proposal is fiscally responsible. After expenditures relating to the natural disasters in 1999, the state had no remaining money in reserve. This budget adds $315 million to the state's savings, bringing the total to more than $900 million.
The budget also provides nearly $290 million in balanced tax relief and does not raise or create any taxes. It is mindful of people's pocketbooks and small business.
Highlights of the budget appear below.
Please remember that you can listen to each day's session, committee meetings and press conferences on the General Assembly's website at www.ncleg.net. Once on the site, select "audio," and then make your selection - House Chamber, Senate Chamber, Appropriations Committee Room or Press Conference Room.