By Kay Castillo, Director of Advocacy, Policy and Legislation, NASW-NC
We do not have much to report this week but we wanted to let everyone know that legislators are still in session as they are still fighting over the budget!
This past week, budget conferees held a series of public meetings. On Wednesday, a two hour meeting was held. House members controlled the first hour and Senate members controlled the second hour. House budget conferee members invited members of the public to talk on the education budget. Senate members did not want public input and walked out of the meeting. They returned an hour later and took control of the meeting. Legislators kept commenting that they would be in session until Christmas because they could not agree. In the afternoon meeting, someone had decorated the conference room with a wreath and stockings at Senator’s seats. House members got lumps of coal at their seats. An agreement was made on lottery funding but that was it this week. The House’s new offer did not impact the Health and Human Services budget while the Senate offer would make drastic cuts to offer an 11% pay raise for teachers (in line with their earlier proposal).
On Thursday, the Governor spoke in favor of the House plan and said he would veto any budget that offered an 11% pay raise to teachers due to having to make deep cuts other places in the budget (the Senate’s proposal).
On Friday, Governor McCrory offered a Call to Legislative Action for the citizens of North Carolina. We encourage social workers to contact their Senate members on budget priorities. We do not want to see cuts made to Medicaid that would impact services especially for the medically needy aged, blind, and disabled. You can find who represents you here. You can also get in touch with budget conferee members to advocate for your specific budget concerns!
No bills were discussed in the House or Senate as legislators held skeleton sessions all week and only met publicly for budget negotiations. The Senate announced they would meet in Rules Committee this week to take action on bills that were held up. Stay tuned as the saga continues….