NC House gives OK to nearly $19B budget

RALEIGH The House gave final approval early Friday to a nearly $19 billion plan to run state government next year. The 64-to-48 margin in favor of the bill was recorded shortly after midnight with no additional debate following the initial vote of 62-to-55 Thursday afternoon.

"There are not tax increases, no fee increases," House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman said. "This is a budget everyone should have been able to vote for."

Holliman said Tuesday afternoon that he was proud of the $19 billion budget that made it through the first round of voting in the House, a vote that came after a day full of debating.

"Is this budget the smart and prudent thing to do, looking toward the future," Lincoln County Representative Johnathan Rhyne said.

House Republicans voiced their opposition, saying the cuts don't go far enough and that the promises of job creation are empty.

"A lot of the provisions of this bill about jobs are a fig leaf, they're not real," Wake County Representative Paul Stam said.

"We've done a lot for job creation and with small businesses trying to help our jobs market and get our people back to work," Holliman said.

Holliman says the budget also found money through other sources like lottery distributions to keep classrooms intact.

"It protects every classroom teacher and assistant in this state," he said.

But the budget is calling for steep cuts in the University of North Carolina system.

"The largest cut was to discretionary funds that will be made at the decision of the chancellors at each of the institutions," Cumberland County Representative Rick Glazier said.

There is also a reduction in funding of financial aid, as well as several health and human services programs like senior care and child care subsidies.

Still, House Republicans say the budget fails to fix a $3 billion hole projected for next year, when the state stops receiving federal stimulus funds.

House and Senate Democrats will start working next week to eliminate budget differences. Republicans argue both plans leave the state unprepared for a big shortfall in 2011.

Negotiators want to get a final budget to Gov. Beverly Perdue by July 1.

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