The $20.2 billion conference budget released late yesterday brings together the Senate and House plans to fund state investments at 11.4 percent below pre-recession levels and at a new all-time historic low of 5.47% of state personal income. Here are some of the key details from this budget proposal that will likely move to the floor as early as tomorrow for a vote.
- Increases public education budget by a net $62.4 million in recurring funds, or about 0.8% over continuation. This doesn’t include the $85 million in reserves for LEAs to support a 1.2% salary increase.
- Partially restores the LEA adjustment by $143 million, of which $16.4 million is paid out of education lottery surplus (one-time) dollars. This line leaves the LEA Adjustment at a total of about $359.8 million, which is about $63 million less than the current year ($429 million)
- Cuts textbook funding by $4.3 million (new item)
- Includes the majority of the Excellence in Public Schools Act, appropriating $27 million in recurring dollars to fund it (Senate budget)
- Includes funds to restore part of the management flexibility reduction (5%) with the remaining $83 million to be found by the State Board of Community Colleges. (House budget)
- Includes $5 million in non-recurring dollars to support the NC Back to Work initiative (House budget)
- Eliminates the fee increase for continuing education scheduled to take effect in FY 2012-13 (House budget)
- Funds projected enrollment increase with an addition of $1.3 million in recurring dollars (Senate budget)
- Funds the Faculty Retention and Recruitment Fund at $3 million (both Senate and House budgets)
- Increases money to UNC Need-Based Grant by $18 million from Eschaets and Lottery Fund, which is roughly half of what is needed to make up for the 2011 budget’s $35 million cut to the program
Health and Human Services
- Provides $212 million to partially fund the projected enrollment growth in the number of people eligible for Medicaid
- Anticipates $59 million in savings through Community Care of North Carolina
- Changes the eligibility criteria for personal care services and reduces appropriation by $6 million
- Provides for $10.3 million to plan to transition individuals with severe mental illness to community living arrangements and temporary assistance in the amount of $39.7 million to adult care and group homes they transition individuals to community placements (similar to House budget in total dollars, provisions similar to Senate budget)
- Takes no action to address the NC Pre-K waiting list or to restore cuts made last year
Department of Natural and Economic Resources
- Transfers significant functions to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, reducing the budget by 26.6% over continuation (House and Senate budgets)
Clean Water Management Trust Fund
- Eliminates total recurring appropriation ($11.25 million) and replaces with $10.75 million in non-recurring funds. This is a 4.4% cut from continuation for the CWMTF, which before the 2011 session was funded at $100 million annually.
- Most notable are the changes to OneNC, a $45 million transfer from OneNC to GF, leaving a $15 million balance in the Fund. This differs from the House language, which only transferred $30 million out of the fund, the Senate, which transferred out $50 million. The money report also specifies an additional $9 million in R to be put into the Fund from reserves.
- Appropriates $5 million of this total amount for an unspecified economic development project not related to OneNC operations—this is likely for the same non-Commerce-requested land purchase that drew heat during the Senate debate.
- Caps the gas tax at 37.5 cents for FY2012-13. The final budget drops a provision from the House budget that would require DOT to plan as if the gas tax were actually set at 35 cents instead of the current revenue forecast process.
- Directs DOT to collect tolls on all ferries in the state with three exceptions: the Hatteras–Ocracoke ferry and the Knotts Island ferry would remain exempt from tolls per current state law and the Cherry Branch/Minnesott Beach route would be toll-free for FY2012-13 only.
- Transfers $63 million in non-recurring funds from the planned Garden Parkway and Mid-Currituck Bridge toll projects—both of which will not be ready to expend the funds in FY2012-13—to the Mobility Fund. The Mobility Fund also receives a recurring $45 million appropriation.
- One new item in the transportation section is a non-recurring $2 million appropriation to supplement and advance project studies related to the Mid-Currituck Bridge project to move the project forward to construction.
- The Regional New Starts & Capital Program within the Public Transportation Division of DOT is eliminated. The unexpended balance of funds for this program ($25 million) is reallocated to the LYNX Blue Line Extension project in Charlotte. Because this program is eliminated, funding for fixed-guideway projects, commonly referred to as light rail, will compete with highway and road projects for funding from the Highway Trust Fund.
- Makes a $1.9 million recurring cut to public transportation grants, which are often used to draw down federal matching funds. This cut is smaller than the $2.6 million cut proposed by the House. The Senate proposal did not include cuts to the grant program.
- Makes no fee changes to the Drivers Education program (Senate budget)
Justice and Public Safety
- Makes mostly management flexibility cuts to the JPS agencies (Senate budget)
- Expands the Parole Commission by two full-time equivalents and eliminates the Edgecombe Youth Development Center (House budget)
- Transfers the Consumer Protection Division to receipt-support, removes Family Court from continuation review, and uses $200,000 in mortgage settlement funds to cover cuts to the Conference of District Attorneys (House and Senate budgets)
Housing Trust Fund Agency
- Eliminates $7.9 million in General Fund appropriations to the Housing Trust Fund for FY2012-13, swapping this money out with the same amount in non-recurring funds from the National Mortgage Settlement.