House leaders released the outline of their $22.9 billion spending plan for the next biennium Thursday, saying that the plan will “advance successful government investment strategies contributing to revenue surpluses, rainy day reserves, rapid economic and population growth.”
And, legislative leaders say, it will fund a variety of programs for children.
While the outlines of the spending plan provided on Thursday don’t include details such as how much the House wants to shore up the state savings reserve, employee salary adjustments and the level of tax cuts, it does give some insight into the House’s priorities with this budget.
The full proposal will come out on Tuesday at a press conference, Speaker of the House Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) said in a release, but in the meantime the highlights show that the House is focusing heavily on areas such as education and transportation.
The House budget outline highlights several initiatives that are aimed directly at children, both in school and in the home.
Moore, in the release, touted that the budget will provide additional NC Pre-K slots in the coming years aimed at eliminating the current waiting list. The program currently has 27,000 slots.
The release said the budget would increase the number of Pre-K slots over the 2016-17 level by 2,300 in the next fiscal year and an additional 4,700 in the following year.
The total number of slots will be approximately 29,300 in fiscal year 2017-18 and 31,700 in fiscal year 2018-19, eliminating the current waiting list.
The House budget would also provide funding to increase the market rate for infants up to two years old for childcare centers in the state that are rated at three or above stars and are located in tier 3 counties. The spending plan would also provide funds to implement the Child Welfare Federal Program Improvement Plan required under the federal Child and Family Services Review.
The budget would also:
- include a funding increase for scholarships for children of war veterans;
- fund K-12 enrollment growth;
- raise the funding cap for children with disabilities’
- include increased funding for textbooks and digital materials;
- provide funds to support juvenile literacy centers that serve court-involved or otherwise at-risk youth;
- provide funds for the Eastern NC STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) program, which is a summer residential STEM program for underserved students.
The Senate approved its $22.9 billion spending plan two weeks ago, and though the two chambers agree on the final amount, how that number is achieved is likely to be different in key areas such as savings reserve contributions, tax cuts, and more.
Once the House passes its plan, the two chambers will form a conference committee to hammer out the differences between their spending plans, before sending the final version to the governor for signing.