By Carolina Journal Staff
RALEIGH – The North Carolina General Assembly has passed the state budget with a vote of 70-40 just after midnight Friday. The chamber held session until approximately 11:45 on Thursday night, adjourning until 12:10 Friday morning for a third and final vote.
“I’m going to tell you, you may be surprised, there are people on my side of the aisle who are voting for the budget holding their nose,” said bill sponsor Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, saying he was cutting his comments short out of concern for members who still had to drive after the midnight session. “There are things in it that they don’t like; there are things in it you may not like,” Lambeth said, urging colleagues to look at the whole picture and all the positive funding items in the budget.
Just five Democrats in the N.C. House voted in favor of the nearly $30 billion budget: Reps. Cecil Brockman, D-Guilford; Carla Cunningham, D-Mecklenburg; Garland Pierce, D-Hoke; Shelly Willingham, D-Bertie; and Michael Wray, D-Halifax.
The N.C. Senate is scheduled for a third reading of the state budget Friday at 9:30 a.m. On Thursday afternoon, it passed the Senate chamber on second reading by 28-19. No Democrats voted to support the budget, which contained Medicaid expansion, raises for teachers and other state employees, along with expansion of Opportunity Scholarships and numerous other priorities.
Once the budget reaches Gov. Roy Cooper has ten days to sign or veto the bill, or let it become law without his signature.