The General Assembly needs to nail down a budget

Published 1:00 am Sunday, August 16, 2015


The North Carolina General Assembly is still trying to hash out a budget for this fiscal year, and it’s about a month and a half overdue.

The House and Senate budgets were supposed to be merged into one by July 1, but after legislators took a break for vacation and re-adjourned to heckle over their differences, the General Assembly has now extended last year’s spending guidelines to run through Aug. 31.

If the legislators continue debating up until that deadline, a deadline that’s a mere two weeks away, then it will be the latest budget for two years passed in more than a decade.

The General Assembly needs to wake up and start compromising. The legislators probably don’t enjoy continual budget negotiations, but the real problem here is the impact it has on the constituents.

For each additional month the legislature is in session past the July 1 deadline, they are racking up expenses to be shouldered by taxpayers. It’s all part of the money it takes to keep that cumbersome machine running, including compensation for the part-time workers and legislators’ living expenses.

The Associated Press estimates that the extended session has cost around $1 million so far, and if it continues to the end of August, then it could potentially cost another half a million.

Besides the bill to be footed by taxpayers, and more importantly than that, thousands of people are living a life of uncertainty as the legislature fights over a budget. For every organization funded by the state and looking at possible cuts, it is undoubtedly a lame duck period.

For example, this is the problem that has plagued the school systems, as they scramble to find a solution to the complications with teaching assistant funds—and it’s unlikely there will be a state-level solution before the start of school.

The state cannot function to its best degree without these basic questions of the budget answered. A body cannot function without its head.

Wake up, General Assembly. It’s time to get the job done and compromise on a budget.