As to the budget, we passed the 2018 – 2019 budget last week in the House and the Senate. It is now in the hands of the Governor. He can sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. This is the earliest anyone can remember in recent years the budget has been done, almost a month ahead of the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1st.
The budget bill, Senate Bill 99 – Appropriations Act of 2018, went to the Senate floor last Wednesday for a vote. It passed 36 – 14 on second reading and also 36 – 14 on third reading Thursday. In the House it passed 72 – 45 Thursday on second reading and 66 – 44 on third reading Friday. Some of our House members had Friday plans and were not there for the final vote. However, I was there.
Some of the highlights of the budget: investment of over $700 million additional in our schools; a 6.5% raise for teachers, a 2% raise for other state employees, and 1% increase for retirees; An 8% raise for Highway Patrol, who have not had a raise in several years, and a raise for correctional officers; all these law enforcement and first responders get an increase in their death benefit, retroactive, to take care of the families of the prison officers and employees who were killed the past year; Additional $60 million in disaster relief for Hurricane Mathew and wildfires, bringing the total to over $360 million; Over $35 million to support school safety on the local level; Over $10 million to support efforts to identify contaminants in our drinking water and eliminate known contaminants; Tax relief for 99% of North Carolinians who will pay less or no state tax.
In addition to the budget, there were dozens of local bills filed. I filed House Bill 1027 – Bald Head Island/Village Dept. Public Safety which allows the Bald Head Island police to enforce the long established No-Wake Zone there. This will supplement the enforcement now provided by the Sheriff Dept. and the Wildlife Resource Commission.
A bill for Oak Island was also filed last week. House Bill 1028 – Oak Island Charter Amendment changes the town charter, to better define the role of the Town Manager and allow the Town Manager to reside outside the town limits.
There were many bills filed from interim committees that address school safety, the safety of our drinking water, and transportation issues. I am a sponsor of many of these bills, which will be coming forward in committees this week and the next few weeks. For a list of these bills, one can go to the General Assembly web site at www.ncleg.net . Click on the House, then click on House Member List, and click on my name. Once on my page, click on Introduced Bills at the top for a complete list of the bills I have sponsored. These new bills will be near the bottom of the list.