Yesterday, the Senate passed a state budget that deserves careful examination, not only to the funding changes but the policy changes that are quietly tucked in as well. What we generally call “the budget” always contains two documents—1) the money report and 2) the special provisions.
The money report is what you would consider to be the budget—the listing of funding levels for various programs and services by line item. The special provisions are the accompanying document that theoretically clarifies the money decisions. It offers policy guidance to administrative agencies that are charged with implementing the funding changes, and it offers guidance to how federal dollars should be spent.
While the special provisions are technically supposed to be just about the numbers in the state budget, more often than not a bunch of policy that should go through the regular bill process pops up in the special provisions. It’s not unheard of for massive programmatic changes to happen in the special provisions. Unless you’re a full-time lobbyist over at the legislature, it’s hard to find out what they contain.
Here are some of the special provisions that merit further attention and debate:
- Changes to Funding Education Formulas
- Changes to the Education Lottery Fund allocation
- Allows for increased class sizes
- Adopts provisions of the Excellent Public Schools Act  of 2013
- Establishes an expanded contract with Teach for America
- Requires drug testing for Work First assistance 
- Increases agency discretion to raise fees
- Develops a system to track state spending and performance known as NC GEAR
- Shifts pregnant women  who earn at least 133 percent of the federal poverty level from Medicaid to the private health insurance marketplace being set up under the Affordable Care Act.
- Creation of the Rural Economic Development Division