Jul 12, 2022 - News

How to fake it: What to know about N.C.'s budget

Illustration of a folder with a dollar bill sign cut out of it. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gov. Roy Cooper signed the Republican-led legislature’s spending proposal Monday, unleashing billions of dollars for projects and agencies across the state.

Maybe you're just now tuning into coverage about the budget, or maybe you've been keeping an eye on it but want to sound smart when it inevitably comes up next time you’re at the bar with friends (because y'all talk about the state budget for fun too, right?).

Either way, keep reading for tips on how to sound like you know what you're talking about.

Why it matters: The budget is a $27.9 billion package with dozens of important projects and grants that have the potential to change the future of our state.

  • That the governor approved the bill, saying it includes "critical investments in education, economic development, transportation and the state workforce," is a sign that he supports moving many of the initiatives included forward.

The next time you're talking politics with friends and someone wonders aloud why a Democratic governor would support a Republican spending proposal, you can rattle off some of the biggest items it includes:

Transportation money: A small percentage of sales tax revenue will be redirected to the state’s highway fund to make up for decreasing transportation revenue.

  • One driver of that decrease: As more drivers opt for electric vehicles, fewer people will pay the gas tax, which is a major source of revenue for the state’s Department of Transportation.

Raises: State employee and teacher pay raises. Teachers received an average of a 4.2% salary increase, which comes as they face mounting demands.

  • Critics have said the raises don't go far enough.

Development: Millions of dollars in incentives for three major economic development projects that would bring thousands of jobs to the state.

  • Bonus points if you mention that one of those projects is an electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Chatham County.

Goodbye, state of emergency: The budget also includes numerous changes requested by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. Those changes, which the governor said are needed to give the department flexibility during the pandemic, mean Cooper will end the two-year COVID-19 state of emergency.

  • Bonus points: Ending the state of emergency means ending COVID-era protections for health care facilities against lawsuits. The consequences of these have been devastating.

What we're watching: While Medicaid expansion played a big role in budget talks — it was a priority of the governor's and both chambers passed their own proposals — it isn't in the budget.

Yes, but: Gov. Cooper's decision to approve the budget anyways signals he expects to reach an agreement with legislative leaders on the issue down the line.

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