senate_budgetRALEIGH—The state Senate has unveiled it proposal for state spending for the next two years.

Senate leaders say this 21.47 billion dollar plan is responsible budgeting, that includes some teacher pay raises, and cuts on state income taxes.

“With a prudent overall increase of about 2 percent, our $21.47 billion plan keeps state government spending in line with population growth and inflation,” said Majority Leader Sen. Harry Brown.

State senators came forward with their state spending plan proposal on Monday afternoon. It is a more modest budget than the one approved last month by the House.

One area where the that modesty can be seen is in pay raises. It does include the promised starting teacher pay increase to $35,000 and provides an average pay raise of four percent for teachers.

However, the spending plan does not give across the board raises to state employees.

“We followed Gov. McCrory’s lead in providing targeted market based pay raises to attract and retain effective state employees,” said Sen. Brown.

In the area of education, the Senate is looking to reduce class sizes in Kindergarten through third-grade classrooms. At the same time, they are reducing funding for teaching assistants.

The Senate is also looking to move the discussion on Medicaid reform forward in its budget proposal. Their plan moves forward at an aggressive pace, with capitated care beginning in 2017.

It also uses a mix of out of state managed care entities and in state provider-led programs to help control costs.

In addition, it creates a board outside of DHHS to oversee the program.

“The new department is created outside of most of the acts of the state personnel act. There will be no limits on what they can set as salary and the entire department will serve as at will positions,” said Sen. Ralph Hise, a McDowell County Republican.

The Senate will move the budget along quickly now. In committee on Tuesday and voted on the floor on Wednesday and Thursday. Some items not included the Senate’s budget proposal is moving for historic tax credits or to fund the governor’s proposed transportation bond.

It does extend the current job development investment grant and make further tax cuts for individuals and corporations.

– Loretta Boniti