Paul Fogleman,

Today (Wednesday) the N.C. House of Representatives rejected the Senate version of a 2016-17 budget for North Carolina. It is a formality. Now conferees from both Chambers will hammer out compromises and agree on special provisions where surprises often are tucked away and that includes appropriations that used to be called “pork barrel.”

The House Finance Committee earlier this week reviewed revenue proposals from the Senate and learned the $17.2 sales taxes provision to hold harmless counties who would lose money under a new re-distribution formula has been repealed. Last session agreed to a new formula for the rebate of 2 percent sales taxes to help poorer counties BUT this was to involve revenue collected beginning in 2018.

Rep. Mitchell Setzer of Catawba County, a Finance Committee chair, said the Senate version is like a Mexican pinata. “You punch it and you don’t know what is going to fall out,” Rep. Setzer asserted.

Lawmakers in both Chambers this week seemed resigned to an extended time frame for budget deliberations as the hot days of July and August approach. The state’s fiscal year starts July 1.

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