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Read the fine print: Special Provisions

This morning, several House appropriations subcommittees “reported out”, or voted on, their budget proposals and the remaining ones are expected to this afternoon. After weeks of work, public meetings, and many behind-closed-doors meetings, we now have a sense of what the House budget will look like once the full Appropriations Chairs (or the “Big Chairs”) make their tweaks. The full House is expected to vote on and pass a budget on May 2nd and 3rd and then it’s up to the Senate to take the budget from there.

In the coming days you’ll hear (hopefully) a lot about the extreme budget cuts that were passed by the Appropriations subcommittees.

But the budget numbers are just one part of the actual budget. 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 and offers policy guidance to administrative agencies in implementing funding changes as well as details on the use of federal dollars. The special provisions are technically supposed to be just about the numbers in the state budget but 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 and unless you’re a full-time lobbyist over at the legislature, it’s hard to actually find out what they contain.

We’d like to change that and over the next week and leading up leading up to the full House vote on the budget, myself and other NC Justice Center staff will be posting on what’s in these special provisions and what they could mean for our state.

Because from what we’ve seen so far, the special provisions released by the House budget subcommittees will make North Carolina look a lot different. And not in a good way.

We’ll start off by categorizing each special provision item by the following:
A. Job Killer
B. Program/service elimination by disguise
C. “We didn’t do it!”, i.e. avoid responsibility for eliminating services by making state agency staff do it
D. Just plain sticking it to all those [insert type] people
E. All of the above.

Then we’ll compare what’s in the money report versus what’s in the special provisions and the potential consequences for services, communities, local governments, and our economy.

Look for our first post soon on the K-12 education budget. Until then, take a look yourself at the special provisions as they are now:
Education
Health & Human Services
Justice & Public Safety
Natural & Economic Resources
General Government

And you can also read a nice summary of what the budget cuts (i.e. the money report) would do to our state here.

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