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The $20.3 billion bet

House budget boosts education, but goes too far on debt

No question about it: North Carolina is still a rapidly growing state with rapidly growing needs for essential services including education and health care. Even so, it’s hard to understand why House Democrats insist on retaining so-called "temporary" taxes enacted six years ago to meet a fiscal crisis and propose significant borrowing without requiring public approval.

Yes, the House budget approved early Friday targets many of the right things. It provides a 5 percent pay hike for the state’s teachers, a wise investment in retaining good educators. It commits a remarkable $11 billion to education.

And the budget helps counties pay their share of Medicaid. Counties want the state to take over all their share of the non-federal costs of the program, but working out a way to do that is likely to take longer than the 2007 session. To help in the short run, the House budget would give counties $100 million to defray their Medicaid costs. That’s not a solution, but it will help counties where Medicaid represents a large and growing portion of the budget. (more…)