Senate budget looks more like McCrory proposal than House plan

RALEIGH — Senate leaders unveiled some details of their $21.5 billion budget proposal today, confirming guesses that it would look much more like Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposal than the budget passed May 22 by the N.C. House of Representatives.

The Senate budget would increase overall spending just 2 percent, which Senate leaders say is within one-quarter of 1 percent of the governor’s budget but far from the 5 percent spending jump in the House budget.

Total spending is not the only area where the Senate proposal lands closer to the administration’s budget. It follows McCrory’s lead in creating two new cabinet departments — for military and veterans affairs and information technology — and moves several divisions including the N.C. Zoo and the state aquariums and parks from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to the Department of Cultural Resources (which would be renamed the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in the Senate plan).

“Because of responsible budgeting decisions, major tax reforms, historic tax cuts enacted by Republicans, North Carolina is expected to have a $400 million surplus in this year’s budget,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow).  “Our proposal uses the additional dollars to help shore up rainy-day and repair and renovation funds by $800 million and deliver broad tax relief to North Carolina families and businesses to help grow the state’s economy.”

The budget will move through the Senate quickly, if the plan that Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and recent experience hold true. The entire plan could be voted on Thursday after going through the appropriations and finance committees today and Wednesday.

Berger joked that he expects “a grand reception” in the House once the Senate plan is passed.

“This is a solid budget for state of North Carolina and we hope that the House will see it that way as well,” Berger said.

More details of the plan will be posted here as they are available.