The budget invests heavily in education, increasing the amount of money given for scholarships and grants by millions of dollars, while also putting more money into preschool programs. Budget conferees also agreed to take over the counties’ share of Medicaid expenses – estimated at $520 million this fiscal year - over the next three years. This will help our rural counties that are particularly burdened by the increasing costs of Medicaid. In addition, it was decided to give counties more flexibility by allowing them to raise additional taxes for school construction, infrastructure, and other improvements. Counties can decide to raise the sales tax by a quarter of a cent or the land transfer tax to 0.6 percent with local voter approval. There are also good provisions and funding for environmental protection and conservation.
I will provide more details about the budget plan next week after the final version is approved.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.