The North Carolina House of Representatives voted 77-38 today to give its final approval to Senate Bill 257-Appropriations Act of 2017, the $23 billion state budget. This proposal is the product of a compromise between the House and Senate budgets passed individually earlier this session. The budget passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 39-11 and will be sent to Governor Roy Cooper to either sign into law or veto, which would send it back to the General Assembly. If he does neither, the bill will become law after 10 days.
Here are some notable provisions in the budget proposal:
The budget increases state funding for pro-life initiatives from $300,000 to $1.7 million over each of the next two years. This includes funds allocated to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship for disbursement in the form of grants to pregnancy care centers around the state for the purchase of medical equipment and training on the use of the equipment. It also includes $300,000 allocated to Human Coalition, a Texas-based pro-life network with an affiliate center in Raleigh. These funds will be used to develop and implement a two-year pilot program to “provide a continuum of care and support to assist women experiencing crisis pregnancies to continue their pregnancies to full term.” There is also an additional appropriation of $400,000 to the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship.
The General Assembly continued to make school choice one of its top priorities. Not only does the final budget continue to fund the expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship Program and the Children with Disabilities Scholarship, but it also creates an entirely new school choice program. The budget creates and funds a new Personal Education Savings Account Program that will “expand support for special needs families.” For more information about this program and what it could mean for your family, visit Parents For Educational Freedom.
No Increase in Lottery Advertising Allowance
The budget bill proposed by the NC Senate originally included a provision that would have allowed the North Carolina Lottery to double the amount it currently spends on advertising. This would have meant the lottery could spend up to $46 million during 2017-2018 fiscal year to entice citizens to gamble. The final budget does not include this provision. Thank you for those of you who spoke out about this provision!
In the coming weeks, NC Family will continue to evaluate the budget in detail and give a more in-depth analysis.