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NCACC Legislative Bulletin
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Sept. 18, 2015
 

NCACC analysis of state budget

With a final vote early this morning, the N.C. General Assembly approved a state budget for the 2015-17 biennium that achieves several NCACC goals and has little negative effect on county government. Governor Pat McCrory has signed the legislation.

The budget contains a tax plan to help struggling areas of the state by expanding the sales tax base to some services and directing most of the proceeds to 79 counties, while other new revenue remains in the county where it is generated. It does not redistribute existing sales taxes.

Lottery funding for school construction is maintained at $100 million. The legislation fully funds teaching assistants and driver’s education. It increases funding for film grants, restores historic preservation tax credits, and increases transportation infrastructure funding and mental health funding.

It creates two new state departments – Information Technology, and Military and Veterans Affairs. In anticipation of separate legislation before the end of the legislative session, the budget allocates $225 million to Medicaid reform and $25 million for a possible general obligation bond.

A detailed analysis of the budget focusing on county interests is here.

With budget done, House, Senate move to finish line

The completion of the state budget, which was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday shortly after receiving its final approval from the House, has set the stage for the legislature to adjourn by Sept. 30. Several items impacting counties remain and are expected to be acted upon before the session wraps up.

The version agreed upon by House and Senate conferees of H117 (NC Competes Act) was rolled out Friday. The compromise makes substantial changes to the Job Development Investment Grant program (JDIG). The changes include capping the amount of funds available at $20 million per year for a year in which there are no "high-yield" projects, and $35 million for a year that includes "high-yield" projects. A high-yield project is defined as a project that includes a $500 million investment and creates at least 1,750 eligible positions. The legislation also inserts specific local match requirements for One NC Fund Awards, based on tier area. Tier 1 counties must match $1 for every $3, Tier 2 counties must provide a $1 match for every $2 and Tier 3 counties must provide a dollar for dollar match. The bill also makes several modifications or extensions to sales tax exemptions for aviation gasoline and jet fuel, motorsports teams parts and fuel purchases and other goods and services.

Another critical issue will be a state infrastructure bond. H943 (Connect NC Bond Act of 2015) as passed by the House included a $2.86 billion bond package that would benefit universities, community colleges, the national guard, state parks and historical sites and provide funds to renovate and repair state buildings. The package also included $400 million for transportation projects and $500 million for a public school capital financing program. The Senate has been pushing a smaller bond package that would focus on state infrastructure needs. It is not certain if any funds will be included for public school capital needs in the final package.

The House and Senate also reached agreement on Medicaid reform and expect to roll out the compromise plan next week. The conference report to H372 (Medicaid Transformation/HIE/PrimaryCare/Funds) creates a new Division of Health Benefits of the Department of Health and Human Services. The Division will award three statewide contracts to three Prepaid Health Plans to provide services to eligible citizens and 10 regional contracts for Provider-led entities (PLE) to provide coverage in one of six specified regions. Mental health services will continue to be provided by existing LME-MCOs for at least four years after capitated contracts begin. The federal government will have to approve the changes, which could take as long as two years.

Local Gov Reg Reform sent to Governor

The House and Senate gave final approval to the conference report for H44 (Local Government Regulatory Reform 2015) yesterday. The bill streamlines the pre-audit process for counties by exempting electronic payments, debit cards, pay cards and payroll expenditures from pre-audit certification. It also removes a public health maintenance of effort requirement that limited county flexibility when funding public health offices. The bill contains an improved version of construction notice and well interconnection provisions and still allows counties to require interconnection in certain circumstances. Thanks to Reps. Donny Lambeth, Chuck McGrady and Stephen Ross, as well as Sen. Trudy Wade and the conferees for seeking local input on these items. The bill passed the Senate 32-15 and the House 83-25 and now goes to the Governor for his consideration.

This Week at the General Assembly

This Week at the General Assembly is produced regularly while the General Assembly in in session. Visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/ncacc1908 or our website to view the latest episode of This Week at the General Assembly.
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