House budget has new slant on cigarettes
The state House budget plan will put a little less hurt on cigarette smokers and cause a whole lot more pain for small cigarette manufacturers.
State employees would receive more money than what the Senate proposed, but businesses and those in the state’s highest income tax bracket would not see their taxes reduced.
Those are some of the details House Speaker Jim Black provided Tuesday of a $17 billion spending plan that was released late Tuesday night. The House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the package this morning. If the committee approves the plan, the full House could vote on it later today.
Black said the budget plan improves education by continuing Gov. Mike Easley’s initiative to reduce class sizes and includes a provision for the state Department of Public Instruction to do a thorough review of all education spending through a process known as zero-based budgeting. It includes a raise of 2.5 percent or $500 for state employees — whichever is greater. That’s a half percentage point better than the Senate’s plan, which also gives employees the option of taking $500. It also provides $12.4 million more than the Senate to cover premium increases in the state health plan.
The House plan also includes a Senate proposal that raises the minimum state salary to $20,112.
Black anticipates that some Republicans will support it.
"We made it easy for them," Black, a Mecklenburg County Democrat, said. "Most of the taxes have already been provided." (more…)
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