Decisive Senate vote on state budget expected Thursday

By Derrick Rose bio | email | Twitter

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - The North Carolina Senate is at the halfway point of passing it's version of the state's next budget at just under $19 Billion.

Senators Wednesday voted 32-17 in favor of a plan that closes a projected $788 million deficit. A final vote Thursday would send it to the House of Representatives.

It's a different version than the offer by Gov. Bev Purdue.

The pay raises Purdue wanted for teachers are not in the Senate version, but it does include an extra $81 Million for public schools.

"We did pretty good in reference to education, we put more money in the budget than governor did in reference to k-12 education, we also increased funding for the community colleges themselves," Sen. Malcolm Graham (D - Mecklenburg) said by phone from Raleigh minutes before Wednesday's vote, "We were clearly sensitive to what local school superintendents wanted and the needs of teachers across North Carolina."

Senate Democrats predict the budget will pass Thursday without any "surprises", Graham said, but admit the budget is not the best and will have to do given the current economy.

Senate Republicans, outnumbered in the senate, argue it's a budget that will continue a pattern of too much spending.

"If a family spends all the money that the breadwinner makes and the breadwinner loses his or her job, it's going to find itself in the same shape that the state would find itself in if it spent all the money that it took in and all of a sudden the economy went south," Sen. Eddie Goodall (R-Mecklenburg) countered.

Both sides concede there may never be a perfect budget. Proof was in the debate over tax credits for small businesses included in the budget.

One Republican senator called the credits a "band-aid to a bleeding artery."

Given the current budget problems locally, WBTV asked Graham and Goodall what people in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties can expect in the long run as a result of the state budget.

Both said it's too early to tell and will depend on what the House does once it gets the budget after Thursday's vote.

Senator Goodall did say he'd like to see the House give even more help to K-12 education.

Look for updates on today's vote on and WBTV News.