North Carolina's budget writers have a lot on their hands in 2018. Teachers are protesting for higher raises, environmental threats are gaining visibility, and prisons continue to be dangerous and understaffed.
And those are just some of the pressures on state government. So state agencies, lobbyists and special interest groups are already fighting for more taxpayer funding in next year's budget. Debate over that new budget will begin next week, when state legislators return to Raleigh on May 16 for a new session. Ahead of that session, the state's top two lawmakers said Monday they had good news: North Carolina has more than $600 million extra to divvy out.
That includes more than a $350 million surplus for this year's budget, which ends on June 30, plus more than $275 million extra that can be budgeted for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
"We plan on a pay raise for state employees," N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, said in a conference call about the budget. "We plan on a pay raise for teachers. We are looking at something for retirees."