House budget committee OKs NC budget plan

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House budget plan moves closer to approval

The Republican-controlled House remains on track toward getting its North Carolina government budget bill approved by the end of the week.

After hours of debate on Wednesday, the House's top budget-writing committee recommended two-year spending plan of at least $22.9 billion per year.

RELATED: NC House unveils portions of state budget plan

Among the many provisions, the House tax proposal inside the budget would cost about $340 million to carry out over two years, with increases in the standard deduction and some tax breaks for businesses.

"We can absolutely afford the tax cuts," Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) told ABC11. "I would submit that the reason our economy is so robust and we have growth is because of a favorable regulatory environment and because of our very conservative fiscal policy."

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The House budget proposal also provides raises of about $1,000 for all state employees, and separate money allocated for teachers and principal pay increase. The nearly 400-page document spells out spending plans for all government programs, including health, infrastructure, education, criminal justice and storm relief, among many others.

"I think the House budget really represents a pragmatic approach to the budget," Moore added. "We've tried not to play politics in this budget. We've tried to focus on critical needs.

Democrats have been less than thrilled with the proposal, and call to attention Gov. Roy Cooper's proposal of a 5% increase and extra spending of close to $1 billion.

"I characterize (the House proposal) as missed opportunities to invest in the future," Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake County, told ABC11. "This is our opportunity instead of another $300 million in tax cuts we could put into the future for jobs, particularly in our rural areas which aren't keeping up."

Hall is challenging Republicans to match Cooper's proposals on teacher pay, free tuition at community colleges, and the fight against opioid abuse.

"Governor Cooper's budget called for no new taxes and no new fees," Hall said.

The Republican-led Senate already approved its own budget proposal, which included a much more aggressive tax cut of nearly $1 billion.

"More people will tell you they can spend the money a whole lot more wiser than government can spend it," Sen. Harry Brown, R-Jacksonville, the ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, told ABC11. "We're funding what we feel government needs at this point. We just try to manage that growth."

The two chambers ultimately will negotiate a final budget to present to Governor Cooper. House leaders expect those talks to begin next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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