RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- In a Wednesday meeting in downtown Raleigh at the Legislative Office Building, joint members of the state legislature met to outline what all is included in the recently released 192-page state budget.
And of course, what was left out.
"There's so much we can do for people's back pockets and this budget just falls short on just about every measure," said Democrat representative Graig Meyer, who represents Orange and Caswell counties. "Republicans will tell you, 'oh we're doing more'. But when you have families that are hurting, those families have a bottom line. They know what is enough. And sometimes more is not enough."
State lawmakers have a $6 billion dollar surplus heading into budget talk and proposals that they were tasked with figuring out how to spend.
Among the budget's top highlights:
- 2% of sales tax revenue to cover declining transportation revenue
- $70M to increase teacher supplement pay, including raising starting teacher salary and school employees to see a 4% raise or minimum $15/hour; whichever is greater
- $32M for school safety equipment and training; includes funding for more School Resource Officers (SROs)
- $80M set aside for the retention and recruitment of state employees
- 1% cost of living adjustment (COLA) for state retirees
- a "healthy" rainy day fund
Some, like Rep. Meyer, believe with a budget sum of $27.9 billion dollars, believe not enough money is going in the right hands. "We're in the best financial position that this state has ever been," Meyer said. "But, people are hurting right now. And this budget does not help people in their back pockets the way that we have the ability to do it."
Durham educator, Dr. Turquoise Parker has been in education for more than a decade. While she, among others, will receive a raise -- she wants North Carolinians to exercise their right to vote who otherwise choose not to. "There are a lot of folks who do not vote because they don't think their votes actually impacts anything," said Parker. "And I would like to impress upon our citizens of North Carolina that I am an example of your vote."
Forsyth County Republican representative Donny Lambeth said, "A lot's changed since we were last here and voted on the budget in November in terms of the economy and the possibility of a recession. And we met with economists and we were cautioned to be very careful because they do believe we are on the early stages of a recession."
This budget fails to introduce Medicaid expansion and doesn't offer any additional tax cuts that were previously debated in prior budgets.
"I think there's some people who won't like it," said Lambeth. "I think there's a lot more people that like it than don't like it."
"Your vote matters because people who make a difference in that, in the lives of all these folks, are in the general assembly on Jones Street and they are there because someone voted for them or someone did not," said Parker.