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.