The Pulse

GOP senators decline to explain reason for controversial budget provision

By: - May 16, 2023 11:42 am

Sen. Natasha Marcus questions policy inserted in Senate budget. (Photo: NCGA video)

Spending bill would bar funding for pregnancy prevention, adolescent services

Members of the Senate Appropriations committee got their first look at the $29.7 billion proposed state budget Senate Republican rolled out on Monday. As the budget writers took turns sharing highlights of the massive bill, Sen. Natasha Marcus (D-Mecklenburg Co.) wanted to know why the budget specifically included policy that would bar the use of state funding for family planning services, pregnancy prevention, or adolescent parenting programs.

“And I’m wondering especially in light of the abortion bill ban that’s going through this chamber, why would we be including a provision like that in this budget? Can anyone explain that to me?” Sen. Marcus asked.

Sen. Joyce Kraweic (R-Forsyth), who handled the Health and Human Services portion of the Senate budget, was content to defer to legislative staff rather than offer an explanation.

“It is prohibiting state agencies from contracting with any provider of family planning services, pregnancy prevention activities, or adolescent parenting programs, if the provider performs abortions,” attempted Joyce Jones with the legislative drafting division.

“I don’t think staff can answer the ‘why?’ question, and that’s what I’m trying to get at.” Marcus responded. “Sounds like nobody in this committee can explain to me the why we would make that policy choice and that’s really disappointing.”

The exchange came just hours before the Senate plans to take up an override vote of Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 20. The legislation would enact a 12 week ban on abortions and place many new restrictions on the clinics that provide such services.

Once senators take that vote, their attention will return to the state budget. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger has said his chamber will vote on the massive spending plan Wednesday and Thursday.

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Clayton Henkel
Clayton Henkel

Communications Coordinator Clayton Henkel manages the NC Newsline website and daily newsletter, while also producing daily audio commentaries and the weekly News and Views radio program/podcast.