- Associated Press - Thursday, May 11, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on the North Carolina Senate debating its two-year state budget proposal (all times local):

7:35 p.m.

Senate Republicans have given initial approval to their state budget, carrying the floor debate with Democrats over whether North Carolina is best served by extending the GOP’s tax overhaul this decade further to corporations and the highest wage earners.

The Senate agreed Thursday to the government spending blueprint through mid-2019 by a vote of 34-15. A second and final Senate vote was scheduled shortly after midnight before the legislation moves to the House.

The 2½-hour debate focused largely on comparing the GOP plan, which spends $22.9 billion in the coming fiscal year, and the budget recommended two months ago by new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, which sought to spend $579 million more.

Democrats argue the General Assembly should be investing more in education and economic development. Republicans say tax reductions have helped accelerate the state’s economic recovery.


4:55 p.m.

The North Carolina Senate has started debating its two-year state budget proposal - a plan that cuts taxes, raises teacher pay and puts hundreds of millions of dollars in reserve.

The plan written by Republicans needs two affirmative votes before it can move over to the House. The first vote was expected later Thursday, with the second just after midnight.

The Senate measure would spend almost $23 billion during the next fiscal year while setting aside $360 million in the state savings account. There are also further reductions to individual and corporate tax rates that began in 2013.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office has criticized the measure for continuing to give tax breaks to corporations and the highest wage earners. And while teacher salaries would go up 3.7 percent on average under the proposal, Cooper’s budget offered 5 percent average raises.


3:40 a.m.

The North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal for state government for the next two years is on track to pass the chamber.

The measure was scheduled for Senate floor debate and the first of two required votes Thursday. Senate committees considered and approved the Republican measure Wednesday.

The bill would spend $22.9 billion for the next fiscal year. GOP leaders are highlighting teacher pay raises, individual and corporate income tax cuts and more money in the state’s rainy day reserve. Lawmakers benefited from a projecting revenue surplus in the current fiscal year.

After Senate floor votes, the budget plan will move to the House, where Republicans will generate a rival measure. House and Senate negotiations would then work to hammer out a final plan to present to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

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