5/25/12 House panels roll out adjustments

House panels roll out adjustments
The Associated Press The Times-News 5/25/12     
Reprinted with permission.

   RALEIGH — House budget panels approved Thursday large portions of their blueprint for North Carolina state government spending next year that restore funds to the public schools but leave intact many cuts to other agencies already approved last year.

   The six House budget subcommittees led by Republicans recommended adjustments to the second year of the two-year state budget implemented last year despite Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue’s veto.

   All the proposed adjustments for the $19.9 billion plan starting July 1 will be rolled into one bill scheduled to be debated and voted on next week by the full House. The Senate will pass its own version later, and the two chambers will work out differences before a compromise is sent to Perdue.

   The education subcommittee made the biggest splash by agreeing to reduce the expected $503 million in state money that school districts would have been required to return next school year to $170 million.

   Similar reduction mandates for the University of North Carolina and community college system were narrowed slightly, however. In other subcommittees, lawmakers agreed to increase the state’s pre-kindergarten program by nearly 1,800 additional students next year but kept in place the same 20 percent spending cut for the Smart Start early childhood initiative already required this year.

   Rep. Harold Brubaker, R-Randolph, senior chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said budget-writers benefited from a projected revenue surplus of more than $200 million this year and unused pots of money elsewhere to help relieve public schools.

   Republicans in charge of the Legislature disagreed with Perdue’s proposal last month and don’t plan on raising taxes by three-quarters of a penny as she sought to restore even more cuts approved last year.