North Carolina budget gets final lawmaker approval

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The North Carolina General Assembly has given its final formal support to a spending plan negotiated by Republicans to run government through June 2017, and that will soon become law.

The spending proposal cleared both chambers when the House voted a second time on the measure in less than three hours early Friday morning. The Senate held two affirmative votes for the budget bill earlier in the week.

The measure now will head to Gov. Pat McCrory, who said Thursday he would sign the bill into law before a temporary spending measure that directed government spending without a final budget in place expires late Friday night.

The final House vote of 81-33 was similar to the margin of the initial House vote Thursday night. 

House Republicans on Thursday highlighted increased spending for public education and $600 million for reserves and government building repairs in urging colleagues to vote for the plan. But several Democrats said the budget fell short on teacher and state employee pay and expanding the sales tax for repairs and installations

McCrory also said in an interview Thursday there is no way he would threaten shutting down normal government operations through a budget veto because of some disagreements involving a budget that spends well over $21 billion this fiscal year. A temporary spending measure expires Friday night. The budget is 11 weeks late.

The governor says he still doesn't like how legislators' spending plan expands the sales tax to cover more services, then distributes proceeds disproportionately to small and rural counties. But he says it's better than an earlier plan in which urban and destination counties would have lost tax revenue.

The Senate already voted for the budget Tuesday and Wednesday. Three Democrats joined all Republicans in supporting the measure on the final Senate vote. House Speaker Tim Moore said this week he also expected bipartisan support. The House scheduled a vote late Thursday on the plan that spends nearly $22 billion annually through mid-2017. An affirmative vote then would lead to a second and final vote early Friday morning. The measure should be in Gov. Pat McCrory's hands by Friday morning