N.C. House prepares for a long night

budget2RALEIGH – Members of the N.C. House are arriving from their home districts this afternoon prepared for a long night. Today private meetings kept them behind closed doors until session kicks off at 5 p.m. The Pledge of Allegiance and prayers that start each session will have extra meaning on Constitution Day as the chamber votes on a resolution for a Billy Graham postage stamp before launching into the budget floor debate. Having passed the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday, the compromise $21 billion budget conference report is expected to get the green light from the House and then head straight to Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk where he says he will sign it into law.

“For the third straight year, we’ve gotten about 90 percent of the common sense solutions we’re recommending passed by the legislature. Because of that, I will sign it,” McCrory told reporters earlier this week.

Because rules require the budget to pass second reading and third reading on separate days, the chamber is expected to debate this evening, vote on first and second reading, and then recess. They will then likely reconvene at midnight for final passage. Most members don’t mind the late night after a summer of discussion and criticism over the lengthy session.

“They are continuing down the path of fundamentally changing the state tax system and controlling spending,” said Donald Bryson, Executive Director of North Carolina’s Americans for Prosperity. “That takes time. It’s hard enough to get two people to agree on a budget this size, much less the majority of 170 members.”

Without this budget agreement, a showdown, and possibly a shutdown, would have been on the horizon because the third continuing resolution expires Friday. Instead, lawmakers say this is a budget that they believe the majority of taxpayers will support.

“The government never shutdown, there was never a classroom without a teacher. Overall the people of North Carolina will be happy with more money in their pocket,” said Bryson.