Legislative Session, Week 25
Legislators finally agreed on a tax plan last week. In a quick press conference last Monday, Governor McCrory, Senate Leader Phil Berger and Speaker of the House Thom Tillis announced that a deal had been reached but gave few details. By Monday night, the bill was online and legislators had it voted on and sent to the Governor by Wednesday. Finally, late last night, legislators reached a budget deal. Legislators will most likely pass this with no amendments and adjourn by the end of the week.
Relevant bills with action
SB 223 Severance & Relocation for Area Directors: This bill allows for a competitive benefit package incentive when hiring area directors (LME/MCOs). The bill passed the House and will be sent to the Governor.
SB 553 LME/MCO Grievances & Appeals: This bill updates grievance and appeals processes for enrollees and providers. The Senate did not concur with House changes and a conference committee was appointed.
HB 510 Foster Care Children’s Bill of Rights: This legislation outlines 11 principles for children in foster care. It passed the House and Senate and was sent to the Governor.
HB 786 RECLAIM NC Act: This bill was turned into a study bill. It directs the Department of Public Safety to study measures for addressing illegal immigration in the state and clarifies which employers (contractors) are subject to the E-Verify system when hiring employees. The bill passed the House and will be sent to the Senate.
HB 831 Education Services for Children in Private Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities: This bill would provide standards for education for children in PRTFs. The bill was pulled from the House floor and was re-referred to House Committee on Rules.
HB 998 Tax Simplification and Reduction Act: This tax reform plan passed the House and Senate last week and was sent to the Governor. A chart compares the new plan to two of the originally introduced plans. The tax plan eliminates the current personal income tax structure and sets a flat rate at 5.8% in 2014 and 5.75% in 2015. It does maintain deductions for charitable contributions and expands sales tax to service warranties and amusements (such as movies). The new plan directs a Revenue Law Study to look at the impact of several other possible tax reform plans to be addressed at a later time. These include the low-income housing tax credit and the feasibility of expanding the sales tax base to additional services.
Late Sunday night, a budget deal was reached. The Special Provisions and the full budget are published on the NC Legislative website. Some quick highlights include: grant funding for school social workers (page 74 in full budget); reduces ADATC funding by 12% (#42 in Special Provisions, page G7); funding for Child Welfare Collaborative (page 157 in full budget); A Family for Every Child fully funded (page 121 in full budget); short term assistance for group homes (#9 in Special Provisions, page G2). Overall, state spending was increased by 2.5%. More details on the budget will be sent later this week.