House Appropriations subcommittees approved a House budget proposal last Thursday, May 29th. Changes from the first draft are overall relatively minor, though public education and mental health show more significant shifts. An updated budget chart with line-by-line changes to the House draft budget is available online.
The House budget goes to the full House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, June 3rd. At that point, we will get a more complete picture of the budget and amendments can be offered. If you have concerns about the House budget, now is the time to let your representatives know. The House intends to send its completed budget to the Senate before the end of this week.
- Health Choice: The new version of the House budget upholds the Governors recommendation to eliminate the six percent growth cap and add $10.4M to prevent a freeze in the program.
- N.C. Kids Care: Because of federal government roadblocks to childrens health insurance expansion, the Governor delayed Kids Care implementation until 1/1/09, and the House delayed until 4/1/09, but both maintained partial-year funding for the program. The U.S. Congress is scheduled to reauthorize SCHIP in March, so April is probably a reasonable implementation date.
- The Governor and the House both shifted $9M of TANF funds into child care subsidies. Of that, $4.1M goes to replace one-time money from 2007/08 and $4.9M creates 1,110 new subsidy slots.
- Thanks to your emails and calls to legislators, the House increased funding for foster care and adoption rates to the same level the Governor proposed. The higher rates will go into effect on January 1, 2009. Some of the funding will also cover implementation of a new standardized foster care reimbursement system, based on a cost model.
- Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Funding: The House budget upholds the Governors recommendation to restore the JCPC funding at $22.7M recurring, and then allocates an additional $1M recurring to JCPCs. This funding was restored and increased because legislators heard loud and clear from the juvenile justice community. Continue to thank your representative and encourage them to maintain this level of funding.
- Crime Commission Study: $200,000 is allocated to the Governors Crime Commission to study the legal, systemic, and organizational impact of expanding juvenile court jurisdiction from 15 to 17 years of age. Corresponding bill for this study is HB 2674.
Below are some other key childrens items funded in the May 29 version of the House Budget which were not funded in previous iterations. A complete comparison of the House budget proposal and the Governors proposal is available on the Action for Children website.
- $2M in funding for demonstration projects on obesity and related chronic disease;
- $1M for a Communities for Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative;
- $70K for childcare costs in pediatric day treatment centers for medically fragile children.
- Community Support Program Cuts: Almost doubled cuts from $36M to $65M. This is the one item the Secretary of HHS commented on, expressing his concern that the agency could not take such a big hit, particularly given the federal matching dollars that would be lost (another $90M) If this passes, it will have enormous implications for providers keeping their doors open. This will be revisited in the Senate.
- Community Crisis Services: House broke out the $30M allocated in previous draft as follows, for a reduced total of $24.4M:
- $8M for 10,000 new beds in local psychiatric hospitals, including detox beds;
- $6M to LMEs for walk-in crisis and immediate psychiatric aftercare;
- $5.75M for
MobileCrisis Intervention Teams;
- $3.4M for nine crisis teams for the developmentally disabled;
- $1M for 12 new respite beds for the developmentally disabled.
Public Education: more changes than in HHS budget
- Dropout Prevention Grants: increased from $10M to $15M. (up from $7M in 07-08). New special provision language would reinstate the Dropout Prevention Commission, reducing DPIs influence over the grant-making process. Some of the new money would be used to hire a contractor to help create the RFP. Some funds are specified to go to those who applied last year and didnt get a grant and to those in communities with higher needs.
- DSSF funding: increased from $5M to $6M.
- More at Four: increased from $0 to $23M nonrecurring. The Governor included over $42M for over 6,300 more new slots and increased per-slot payment rates. The first draft of the House budget included no new funding for More at Four; the latest draft would expand the program by about 4,000 slots and increases per slot payment by three percent.
- School Connectivity: increased from $4M by $11M to improve IT infrastructure in the LEAs.
- Child Nutrition: $4M in new funds to implement previously-enacted improved child nutrition standards in elementary schools.
- Teacher pay: three percent average pay raise for teachers. The Governor recommended a seven percent increase, which would have cost around $350M. The House also proposed a 2¾ % or $1,100 flat increase for state employees, whichever is greater. This is up from the Governors recommendation of a 1.5% increase for state employees.
- Smart Start: no new money.
- JCPC funding: still restored to recurring and expanded by $1M;
- Probation/parole: shifted the $3M in recurring funds from the first draft of the budget to $2M recurring and $1M nonrecurring.
- Housing 400 Initiative: increase from $4M to $7M in Housing Trust Fund to build housing for individuals with disabilities; another $1M in operating funds for continuing housing support for these individuals. $2M of the $7M comes out of the Mental Health Trust Fund.
- Housing Trust Fund: $2M increase.
- Home Protection Pilot and Foreclosure Prevention: $3M allocation.
Bill filing deadlines were last week, and over 2000 additional bills were entered. This biennium has seen a record high number of bills entered: over 7000.
Key bills acted on last week included:
The House Finance Committee passed an economic stimulus package that includes:
- EITC Percentage Increase: an EITC percentage increase from 3.5% to 5% (HB 2642, SB 2097).
- Homestead Exemption for Veterans: Expansion of the homestead exemption to disabled veterans or the spouses of deceased veterans to lower tax payments on their homes substantially (HB 2631).
- Health Insurance Tax Credits to Small Businesses: Expansion of a tax credit that passed last year to help small employers who provide health insurance to their employees (HB 2335).
- A revised version of HB 274, the Street Gang Suppression Act passed the Senate after considerable changes and was returned to the House. The House did not concur with changes, so the bill now goes to conference committee. Conferees have not yet been appointed.
- SB 1358, the Street Gang Prevention and Intervention Act, passed the Senate last week also. The bill called for $10M to be allocated to prevention and intervention services for gang-involved youth; the funds were not included in the House JPS budget. This bill is referred to House Committee on Appropriations.
Health Issues (Alert from our friends at the N.C. Alliance for Health)
Please see the N.C. Alliance for Health website soon for an alert focused on:
- Elimination of smoking on state government grounds,
- Obesity prevention (quality PE standards, child obesity data collection and implementation of statewide child nutrition standards), and
- Funding for the Tobacco Quitline.
Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Funding
(Alert from Action for Children and our friends at the Covenant for
Thanks to all your incredible efforts, legislators are working hard to restore all the recurring funds JCPCs received in the past and even allocate $5 million MORE! Click here to send emails to:
(1) Speaker Hackney and his team (Click on "House Leadership Needs to Hear from Us"), AND (2) Your Senator (Click on "Senate to Receive Budget this Week"). Foster Care and Adoption Rate Increases (Alert from our friends at Children and Family Services Association-NC)
The House is moving quickly to get out a draft budget. We need to be sure they include the Governors recommendation for an increase in room and board for foster and adoptive families! Send an e-mail to key budget committee members in the House!
EITC Percentage Increase
(Alert from our friends at the
Help inform our leaders of the need to increase the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) from 3.5% to 5% to help
Funding for Child Nutrition Standards (Alert from our friends at the NC Alliance for Health)
The newest draft of the House budget recommendation includes $4 million to fund the implementation of state child nutrition standards established in 2005. A copy of the bill filed this year to fund child nutrition programs (H2226/S1898) is available online.
To learn more about the issue and get contact info for your legislators, click here.
Support Housing and Prevent Foreclosures (Alert from our friends at the NC Housing Coalition)
Now is the time we need all housing advocates to make their voices heard in the NC General Assembly. Let the General Assembly know they need to increase the funding invested in housing production and foreclosure prevention.
Send an email through the NC Justice Center Alert Page to these key decision makers in
(Alert from our friends at the NC Justice Center)
Action for Children North Carolina