The North Carolina Senate passed a budget last week after less than 72 hours of public scrutiny and limited debate. While investment choices are the focus for the budget, the Senate budget also includes a number of special provisions that set out policy.
These policy changes don’t get the scrutiny or debate that they deserve when buried in the spending bill. They have the potential to make significant changes to the systems and services that reach North Carolina communities and families.
Here are just a dozen of the significant policy provisions from the Senate Budget that should have received robust debate and a full discussion of their implications for our state’s economy and well-being and serving the public good. Many fall far short of those goals.
- Cuts 133,000 North Carolinians from food assistance (Section 11C.11, Page 113)
- Mandates that judges not waive fees for indigent defendants until all affected state agencies approve (Section 18B.6., Page 293)
- Repeals certificate of need provisions for health care providers and hospitals that seek to ensure rural communities maintain access to care (Section 11F.5.(b), Page 145 of Senate Bill 257)
- Prohibits the allocation of state funds to any provider that performs abortions (except those receiving payments through the State Health Plan or Medicaid) (Section 11E.4, page 132)
- Mandates at least quarterly monitoring of North Carolinians receiving Medicaid to determine eligibility (Section 11H.20.(a), page 168)
- Eliminates ability of the courts to use emergency recall judges (Section 18B.7.(a), page 294)
- Regionalizes the delivery of Department of Social Services with benchmarks only for child protective services (Section 11C.12.(a), page 114)
- Eliminates retiree medical coverage for new hires, including teachers, State employees and members of the Consolidated Judicial Retirement system (Section 35.21.(a), page 335)
- Caps the amount of Workforce Housing Loan Program money that can be spent in each county per year, significantly limiting distribution of funds to counties with the most need (Section 28.1, Page 303)
- Prohibits local school districts from moving funds across allotments to meet needs (Section 7.12 to 14, page 24)
- Prohibits wind farms from locating in North Carolina (Section 24.2.(b), page 301)
- Establishes Personal Education Savings Accounts for children with disabilities for private school education costs in addition to having access to the state’s voucher program (Section 10A.4.(a), page 81)