Mar 16, 2023 - Politics

Some Assembly Required: North Carolina's dueling state budgets

Illustration of a gavel made out of an acorn.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Some Assembly Required is Axios Raleigh's weekly column from political reporter Lucille Sherman, unpacking developments inside the N.C. General Assembly.

It's been a week. In addition to Medicaid expansion, lawmakers advanced opioids legislation, looser gun laws, mobile sports betting legalization, and a bill outlining penalties for an attack on a power grid, prompted by Moore County's grid outage in December.

Then there's the budget: ICYMI, last week Republican legislative leaders agreed to spend 6.5% more in the 2023-2024 fiscal year as part of the budget package — one of the most significant negotiations every year. I'm a bit surprised they compromised this early.

  • Gov. Roy Cooper responded by unveiling his own budget proposal Wednesday, which proposes teacher raises averaging 18% and reducing unemployment insurance taxes.

Spoiler: Cooper doesn't have much leverage, given that Republicans are operating with an effective supermajority in the state House and a true supermajority in the Senate.

What I'm watching: What "poison pills" Republicans include in the budget. If lawmakers include abortion restrictions, for example, Cooper could have to decide whether to veto billions of dollars for the state and block Medicaid expansion — his biggest priority, and one that's contingent on the state budget passing —from becoming law.

  • The legislature could send expansion to Cooper's desk as early as this week.

Don't forget about 2024: House Republicans are targeting 37 congressional seats to flip. Among them are those occupied by Reps. Wiley Nickel, Don Davis and Jeff Jackson.

  • Worth noting: Their districts will likely change after the state legislature redraws congressional districts later this year.

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