RALEIGH, N.C. – The new fiscal year for the state of North Carolina began on the first of July.
Unlike businesses and organizations across the state, however, North Carolina is not operating on a new budget for the new year.
That’s due to a delay in the State House and State Senate.
Despite passing budgets in both chambers months ago, Republican leadership is still negotiating a final compromise budget.
The talks have taken weeks, leaving employees and organizations across the state, wondering what kind of funding they’ll have to work with.
Unlike the federal government, however, the state isn’t left without funding.
Until a new budget becomes law, the previous funding plan continues on, so the budget from the previous fiscal year is carrying over currently.
Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore have said they’ve made progress on the negotiations and anticipate voting on a new budget in August.
David Heinen, vice president for public policy and advocacy at the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, is one of the people keeping an eye on the progress.
Heinen says a good number of nonprofits receive state funding, and whether it is a one-time grant or recurring funding, it is allocated through the budget.
“Almost four out of five nonprofits in North Carolina in a recent survey said that they have job vacancies right now, that they can't fill their full staff,” Heinen said. “I think a lot of the organizations were looking at this increased state funding as a way to maybe boost salaries or provide a little bit better benefits to make them more competitive.”
Some of those nonprofits run on the same fiscal year as the state, he says, which means they’ve had to create budgets without the full picture of the funding they’ll be able to work with.
It’s a stressful situation, especially because the funding they saw in a proposal could be cut from the final bill.
“They’re kind of on pins and needles waiting for, you know, for the funding to come,” Heinen said. “Also recognizing that the reality is that the money doesn't come through the door as soon as the state budget passes, because it takes some time for the office, the State Budget Management to certify the budget.”
Ann Webb is the policy director for Common Cause North Carolina, and her concerns revolve around state agencies, namely the State Board of Elections.
Webb says this budget and the funding the board gets will impact some big races.
“We're heading into municipal elections just in the next few weeks. Those elections are affected. But we're also looking at a budget that will affect the presidential primary coming up in March, which is quite soon,” Webb said.
The legislature is looking at some significant changes to state elections, including changing the day mail-in ballots must be returned by, along with new signature matching verification requirements.
Webb says along with the voter ID law in place this election, it’s a lot of work on the shoulders of the board, and they need the money to do it right.
“It's not so that they can do anything special beyond implement the law that the legislature has asked them to implement. And we were very concerned that they're not giving those resources to do that well.”
Webb says this is something that everyone should care about, because it’s your tax dollars that are being negotiated right now.
“We are all paying taxes into this big pool of money that the state budget divides up amongst all the services and things that we need to run our state. It is being held hostage right now by disagreements between legislative leaders, and that means that people are not getting what they need,” she said.
Health care advocates are waiting for the budget for another reason: the state legislature tied Medicaid expansion to passing the budget. That means that once a budget is passed by legislators and signed by the governor, the state will begin the process to give Medicaid health coverage to hundreds of thousands of more people in North Carolina.