Legislative leaders say they have budget framework

Jul. 26, 2014 @ 10:24 PM

North Carolina legislative leaders say they have reached an agreement on the outline of a state budget.

“Budget framework agreed upon between House & Senate conferees. Final details expected next week,”  House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenberg, and Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said in identical messages on Twitter late Saturday afternoon.

The House and Senate have been caught in an impasse as they try to adjust spending in the second year of the two-year budget approved last summer. Among the sticking points had been teacher pay raises, the future of teacher assistants and Medicaid.

Earlier this week, Gov. Pat McCroy met privately with Senate Republicans.

While neither legislative leader offered any specifics, WRAL-TV’s Mark Binker, citing “multiple sources,”  reported “the $21 billion spending plan will provide slightly more than a 7 percent pay raise for public school teachers.”

That’s close to the last proposal by the House. The Senate had proposed as much as 11 percent in teacher raises, but proposed to pay partly by eliminating teacher assistants in early grades.  It was not immediately clear Saturday what the fate of teacher assistants would be in the compromise budget.

Binker reported that Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, the Senate's lead budget negotiator, told him the budget would not cut teaching assistant jobs, but would change how money for teaching assistants was allocated.

According to several people involved in the negotiations, Binker reported on WRAL.com, the budget framework agreed to Saturday “involves laying out the amounts of money available in each budget area for education, Health and Human Services, government operations, etc.”

But, he added, sources said that “many of the details are still up in the air.”

A final vote on the budget is not expected before late this week.