Legislative Update: September 25, 2023

Last week at the North Carolina General Assembly we saw the final result of the long state budget negotiations, as well as the final votes in the House and Senate on the 1400-page document.  The Governor has said he will allow it to become law without his signature.  Other bills were considered and passed, including some election bills.

     The biennial NC General Fund budget includes $29.7 billion for 2023-2024 and $30.8 billion for 2024-2025.  Some of the major appropriations include Education at $17.3 and $17.9 billion respectively, or over 58% of the total in each year; Health and Human Services at $7.3 and $7.7 billion, or 25 % of the total (75% of those figures are medical/Medicaid payments); Justice and Public Safety at $3.6 and $3.7 billion, or 12% of the total.  That left just 5% each year for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Information Technology, and the 18 categories under General Government.

     In the budget the personal income tax rate is reduced for all taxpaying families from 4.99% to 3.99% in 2025.  It also caps the franchise tax on small businesses.  It increases the Golden Leaf Foundation and the Mega-site Readiness Fund for economic development, and over $2 billion for water/sewer infrastructure projects across the state.  Brunswick County is receiving millions for those projects.

     Many of our local municipalities received special grants for parks, stormwater, fire equipment and other projects.  In our House District 17 park projects in Calabash, Ocean Isle Beach, Northwest, Belville, and Shallotte were funded; Grissettown-Longwood Fire & Rescue received funding for new fire trucks; and Northwest also received some stormwater mitigation funding.  A senior apartment project in Calabash, similar to Sunset Commons, was partially funded to match other federal and private monies.  Many other projects in House District 19 and across the County were funded through the efforts of Rep. Miller and Sen. Rabon.

     As a member of the Brunswick Community College Bd. of Trustees, I was particularly gratified to learn that BCC had received $25 million in special funding for Workforce Development and Public Safety center capital projects.  This is so important to the future economic strength of our area and safety of our citizens.

     The Transportation Budget is separate from the General Fund budget.  I am always involved in producing this section of our state budget.  The Highway Fund, the maintenance funding, is $3.0 billion for 2023-2024 and $3.2 billion for 2024-2025.  This includes contract resurfacing, bridge preservation and replacement, general maintenance, and also, roadside environmental funds.  This year a special reserve of $300 million went to 38 airports across the state for improvements, including $13.5 for Brunswick’s own Cape Fear Jetport.

     The Highway Fund, the construction funding, allocates $2.3 billion for 2023- 2024 and $2.4 billion for 2024-2025.  Not only highway construction utilizes this funding, but also our ports’ capital projects, ferry replacement, and Global Transpark capital. 

     Other bills came out of committees and onto the floors of the House and Senate for votes.  Senate Bill 749 – No Partisan Advantage in Elections changes the makeup of the state and county boards of elections, and implements Voter ID, among other changes.  It went to the Governor on Friday.  House Bill 770 – Cast Record Votes brings more transparency to the chain of custody and security of ballots. It passed the House on Thursday by 73 – 29 and went to the Senate.  House Bill 600 – Regulatory Reform Act of 2023 passed both chambers and went to the Governor on Friday.  House Bill 542 – HOA Revisions/Foreclosure Trustee Auctions came back to the House, was voted not to concur, and went to a conference committee.  I am a primary sponsor of this bipartisan bill and a member of the conference committee.  There is a lot of misinformation being circulated about this bill.  Many other bills came through the  process, but too many to list in this one article.