Conferees for the budget conference committee have been appointed. You can view the list here. What does this mean? Let’s take a step back.
The legislature’s main charge is the passage of the biennial state budget. Starting in odd-numbered years during long session the legislature embarks on the often long, and always interesting, process of drafting, discussing, and passing the state budget. Budget adjustments are made in even-numbered years during short session.
The chambers take turns starting this process. The House began the process this year.
Because the budgets approved by the House and Senate almost never match, both chambers appoint members to a conference committee, where deals are made and funding is moved around. Eventually, both chambers are happy (or equally unhappy) and the conference report is approved and sent to the governor for signature or veto. While the budget year ends on June 30, it is rare that the General Assembly sends a budget to the governor by this date.
However, the publicly-stated goal from legislative leaders is to send Governor Cooper a budget by June 30. The deadline is especially important this year because federal drawdowns for HASP and Medicaid were tied to the passage of a budget in the Medicaid expansion bill that passed earlier this year.
So, what happens now? Conference committee members will meet, negotiate, and develop a consensus budget. Some subcommittee members have already finalized their budgets, and the primary appropriations committee chairs are now discussing details of larger budget items such as teacher pay and tax cuts.
As always, we will continue to work to move our priorities forward and ensure they are included in the final budget for as long as the process continues.