Sep 19, 2023 - News

NC Republicans plan to pass budget without casino legalization

Illustration of a folder with a dollar bill sign cut out of it. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

North Carolina Republican leaders have reached an agreement on what to include in a state spending package, more than two and a half months late, they announced in a last-minute press conference Tuesday evening.

Driving the news: The legislature plans to send a budget to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk Friday that will include long-awaited pay raises for state employees and unlock some $30 billion in state funding.

  • With or without support from Cooper or Democrats, the budget appears likely to become law, giving way for Medicaid expansion to be enacted some six months after it passed.

The latest: The budget will no longer include measures legalizing non-tribal casinos and video lottery terminals. Last week, those brought negotiations to a grinding halt due to the opposition of a minority of Republicans.

  • A pitch to include those measures alongside a trigger for Medicaid expansion enactment in legislation separate from the budget did not materialize.

Details: A formal budget document has yet to be released, but a more than 600-page draft was shared with House members and obtained by Axios Monday night.

  • That draft shows that teachers and many state employees will receive 7% raises over the next two years.
  • Personal income taxes are also set to shrink to less than 4% in 2025.

Also included in the leaked spending package:

  • A 23% raise for the governor over the next two years, along with major raises for other statewide elected officials, including state supreme court justices, who will receive an 18% increase.
  • Changes to the state's new sports betting law, which would require mobile sports betting operators to have a "written designation agreement" with professional sports teams, WRAL reported.
  • $500 million for North Carolina nonprofit NCInnovation, which plans to bolster research at the state's universities. The organization originally requested $2.5 billion and was allocated $1.4 billion in earlier drafts of the state budget.
  • Close to $320 million for a new UNC Children's Hospital.
  • Expansion of private school vouchers to families of all income levels.

Yes, but: Senate leader Phil Berger would not confirm Tuesday afternoon what other budget items were finalized other than tax cuts and raises.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect the budget proposal includes money for a new UNC Children's Hospital, not improvements to the existing hospital. It's also been corrected to say the proposal includes $500 million for NCInnovation, not $500,000.

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