Republican leaders expect to complete floor votes on a $25.7 billion state budget in both chambers of the General Assembly by Thursday and to send it to Gov. Cooper soon after that. While Republican negotiators say they did not reach a compromise “deal” with Governor Cooper, they claim that the final budget includes much of what he wants. The governor will then have 10 days to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature. The budget is expected to include pay raises for teachers and state employees and funding for construction projects. It will also include tax cuts desired by Republican legislators. It is not expected to include Medicaid expansion, and it remains unclear if it will include an effort to limit the governor’s executive powers.
NC Superior Court judge David Lee ordered the state to immediately disburse $1.7 billion dollars of the more than $6 billion in state surplus revenue in order to fund the first two years of a comprehensive public school improvement plan. The plan, known as the WestEd Report, was completed in 2019 and accepted by the State Board of Education and other defendants in the original 17-year-old landmark case, Leandro v. State of North Carolina. Judge Lee ordered disbursal of the funds after finding that the state has failed to provide an alternative plan to meet its constitutional requirements to fund public school education as mandated in the settlement. Republican legislators denounced the order, asserting that only the General Assembly has the constitutional authority to appropriate funds. The judge stayed his order for 30 days to allow for appeal, but it is not clear if state lawmakers have the right to file such an appeal.