Action for Children North Carolina |
May 19, 2013  
Senate Budget Released  

Senate leaders unveiled their proposed budget late last night. The $20.58 billion spending plan is just $17 million shy of Governor McCrory's proposed budget and represents a 2.3 percent increase over the current budget. The Senate proposed steeper cuts to Medicaid than the Governor, to make up for a larger gap than expected, and cuts to pre-K. In fact all child-focused departments received cuts in the budget proposal.

Visit Action for Children's Policy and Budget Action webpage for a line-by-line comparison of the Governor's budget vs. the Senate budget, or click below:

 Here are some highlights:






The Senate budget includes a substantially higher Medicaid rebase than the Governor's budget, and much steeper cuts to Medicaid. Some big-ticket cuts include provider rate freezes for some services, limitations on usage of some services, a change in the way prescription drugs are invoiced, and paying hospitals a lower percentage of their outpatient costs. As in the Governor's budget, children under 133 percent of the federal poverty level are shifted from Health Choice to Medicaid, per the Affordable Care Act.   


Child Development


While the Governor's budget proposed increasing pre-K slots by 5,000, the Senate budget cuts pre-K slots by 2,500 in the first year and 5,000 in the second year. The funds are shifted to child care subsidy to address the current waiting list for subsidies. In addition, funds are shifted to Medicaid to help cover the expected shortfall, and some state funds are replaced with federal funds. 


Public Health


Cuts are similar to the Governor's budget, including Early Intervention and AIDS drugs. Tobacco prevention is given only $1.4 million, for the NC Tobacco Quitline. Dental hygienists, technicians and oral health administrative positions are eliminated (48 total) and less than half of that funding is committed to hiring hygienists and technicians at local health department-sponsored dental clinics. 


Social Services


Proposal is nearly identical to the Governor's proposal, including cuts to contract and additional state funds to replace lost federal dollars. The Senate would help an additional 100 foster care children attend college, compared with the Governor's 200. The Senate budget also includes a transfer of funds to Medicaid to help cover the shortfall and does not increase funding to food banks, as the Governor's budget proposed.


Health Choice


The Health Choice spending plan is similar to the Governor's budget, with the largest decrease being the transfer of children to Medicaid. The plan also includes some additional cuts to Health Choice that mirror changes made in Medicaid:  provider rate freezes for some services, a fee for use of emergency services for non-emergency health needs, and a change in the way prescription drugs are invoiced. There is no cap placed on Health Choice enrollment.


Mental Health


Major proposed changes in Mental Health include closing the three state-run Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers and committing less than half of those funds to community-based treatment programs, and the closure of Wright School, for children with mental health and behavioral disorders. Funds are included for the N.C. Child Treatment Program, for children dealing with trauma, and for a statewide telepsychiatry phone line to help reduce stress on emergency room departments.




Overall cuts to public education are much steeper in the Senate budget than in the Governor's proposed plan. 


The budget proposes to eliminate the annual LEA adjustment (where local school districts returned a certain amount of funding back to the state), and divide the cut instead among classroom teacher allotments, instructional support personnel and instructional supplies. The result will be increased student:teacher ratios and less funding for instructional support personnel and supplies. Like in the Governor's budget, teaching assistants are eliminated for second and third grades. The cut to Limited English Proficiency students is higher than in the Governor's budget, and responsibility and funding for teachers at juvenile facilities is transferred from Public Safety to DPI. As in the Governor's budget, funding is allotted for the Excellent Public Schools Act. The Senate budget also includes a $500 annual salary increase for teachers who agree to sign a four-year contract based on teacher effectiveness.


As in the Governor's budget, state support for the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching is eliminated, as is support for the Teaching Fellows scholarship program. Teach for America receives some additional funding, and the charter school office staff is increased slightly.  


PUBLIC SAFETY, as it pertains to juvenile justice


The Senate proposes steeper cuts to juvenile justice-related line items than the Governor's budget.  


The budget proposes to close several youth institutions, including Western Youth Institution, Lenoir Youth Development Center, and Richmond and Buncombe Detention Centers, Administrative cuts are proposed, including some filled positions, and, as mentioned above, responsibility and funding for educational services are transferred to DPI. Additional funding is allotted for a new Western Multipurpose Group Home, to respond to needs arising from the closure of the Buncombe Detention Center, and $1.5 million in additional funding is provided to Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils to increase community programming for adjudicated youth.