This past week at the North Carolina General Assembly was filled with bills that had been waiting for consideration and the 2022-2023 budget adjustments on which we had worked since May. This produced a long week that kept us in Raleigh from Monday until Friday. On Friday, we took the final votes in the House and Senate and passed the budget bill. Most of these bills are on the Governor’s desk for his signature.
The General Assembly passes a budget every two years, known as the biennium, but we come back in the second year to adjust the spending due to new revenue estimates. House Bill 103 – 2022 Appropriations Act increases the spending in every area of state operations, including Education, Health & Human Services, Justice & Public Safety, Transportation, and all other departments of your state government. The total General Fund budget for 2022-2023 is $27.9 billion.
Some of the General Fund budget highlights include Education, Health &Human Services, Justice & Public Safety, Environment, etc. Teachers receive a 4.2% average raise (9.1% over the biennium), and school employees receive the greater of 4% or increase to $15 an hour. State agency employees receive a 3.5% raise, and state retirees receive 1% additional supplement (4% over the biennium).
Included in these 2022-2023 budget adjustments are $32 million for school safety grants and $14.8 million for mental health programs. Also included are $876 million to supplement major economic development projects and $600 million additional for water and sewer projects ($2.5 billion for the biennium).
Transportation Funds are separate from the General Fund, and include highway and bridge construction and maintenance, aviation, rail, bike-ped, ferries, ports, public transit, etc. The total Transportation budget is $4.7 billion, and is supported by the fuel tax at the pump, DMV fees, and highway use tax when you buy a vehicle. For the first time, sales tax on automotive products is transferred into the Transportation Highway Trust Fund for highway construction.
Other key bills passed last week include Senate Bill 101 – Require Sheriffs to Cooperate with ICE, Senate 762 – The Farm Act of 2022 to support family farmers, and House Bill 911 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2022 to streamline and reduce burdensome government regulations. Other bills involved education, the environment, ABC laws, DMV provisions, as well as many local bills.
A key provision in House Bill 103, the budget bill, was one to deny the ability of the state government to require citizens to get vaccinations, tests, or treatments against their will. Another budget provision allocated an additional Assistant District Attorney and Deputy Clerk of Court for our district. Yet others allocated funds to some of our towns in Brunswick County for park projects.
We adjourned Friday, but allowed for future sessions during the balance of 2022 in case we need to return for emergency action. The last two years have taught us to expect the unexpected.