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Old North State Report – August 14, 2023
Monday, August 14, 2023


The state budget impasse in North Carolina will last until September. There is "zero" chance that a budget will pass before September 1, according to House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland).

The budget delays come as the Office of State Budget & Management reported Monday that the state revenue for fiscal year 2022-23 came to $33.535 billion, which is $3.026 billion, or nearly 10 percent above what had been anticipated to implement last year's state budget law.

Following a no-vote House session on Monday, Moore told reporters that he and Senate leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) are making progress and that a list of more than 100 topics to discuss last week has been cut down to about 70. Legalizing more casinos, spending for savings and capital improvements, and other issues are still being discussed. Moore stated that although they will not reveal the specific figures until the budget is finished, they have already agreed to tax reductions and employee raises.

The delay might cause Medicaid expansion to be put off for a few more months. On October 1, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services hoped to start the health care program for more than 600,000 people who were not previously eligible. Legislative leaders rejected Governor Roy Cooper's request to implement expansion without first passing the budget.

Moore called the upcoming raises for teachers and state employees "significant" and "meaningful." The raises will be retroactive to July 1. Moore would not specify whether the pension increase for state retirees is a one-time bonus or a permanent cost-of-living increase.

In the event that a full budget cannot be reached, Moore and Berger are both willing to support passing smaller, "mini" budget bills with pay raises.

There will not be any voting sessions in the House or Senate until Wednesday, August 16. The House has scheduled veto override votes for legislation ranging from building code regulations to transgender health care at that time.

Read more by The News & Observer

Read more by WUNC

Read more by Associated Press


Voters in the municipal elections this fall will be required to show a photo ID at the polls due to a recent court decision.

A photo ID law was approved by the legislature in late 2018, but its implementation was halted while it was being contested in court. Following a state Supreme Court decision in April, the regulations will be implemented beginning with the local elections this year.

If a voter does not have identification, they would not be automatically turned away. By submitting a "reasonable impediment" form explaining why they were unable to comply with the requirement, they could still be allowed to cast their vote. "I did not know photo ID was required for voting," is one of the six checkboxes that a voter can mark on the form.

However, the State Board of Elections intends to modify the form when it meets this month, removing the check box for voters to indicate that they were unaware of the ID requirements. Nonetheless, they could still list that justification in the form's "other reasonable impediment" section and cast a provisional ballot.

According to State Board of Elections lawyer Paul Cox, "The county board of elections is required to count the ballot of an eligible voter claiming an exception and using the Exception Form, unless the county board unanimously finds that the voter provided false information on the form."

In order to inform voters about the ID requirement, election officials claim they need more funding. "The State Board remains hopeful that the budget will include funding to ensure that the state’s 7.3 million voters are fully informed of the photo ID requirement to vote," Cox said. "That would certainly minimize lack of awareness as a potential reason for a voter not presenting ID when voting."

County boards of elections can now generate free photo ID cards, according to a statement issued by the State Board of Elections on Wednesday. These can assist registered voters who lack other acceptable forms of identification such as driver's licenses, military IDs, and a sizable number of state-approved student ID cards for colleges and public employer ID cards.

Read more by WUNC

Read more by Associated Press


In March, a bipartisan Medicaid expansion bill was approved by state legislators and Governor Roy Cooper, but it will not go into effect until the state budget for this fiscal year is approved.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services had hoped to be able to begin Medicaid expansion on October 1, but the start will have to be postponed to December 1 or later because it is exceedingly unlikely that the state budget bill will be passed before the end of August.

State leaders have expressed opposition to moving forward with Medicaid expansion without a budget in place. House Speaker Tim Moore has previously stated that expansion must be accounted for in the budget because it will generate hundreds of millions of dollars each month and compel the state to fund more healthcare.

However, Kody Kinsley, the State's Health Secretary, asserted that expansion in North Carolina should not be required to be included in the budget because it is designed in such a way that the state will not incur any costs. 10 percent of the cost will be covered by hospital and healthcare provider fees, with the remaining 90 percent of the cost being covered by the federal government.

About half of North Carolina's uninsured population will eventually be covered by Medicaid expansion, which is expected to initially have an impact on 300,000 people and then another 300,000 as enrollment efforts pick up. Many of the newly eligible people are childless adults without disabilities, who are ineligible for coverage under the current rules.

With a "signing bonus" from the federal government of about $1.6 billion, the expansion will also increase the state's financial resources. The one-time incentive will be distributed over two years, and lawmakers intend to use a large portion of it to expand access to mental health services.

Medicaid provides coverage for a number of services, such as:

  • Ambulatory patient services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Medicaid expansion has additional benefits, including:

  • Assisting rural areas, where 30 percent to 40 percent of residents lack health insurance, in attracting more medical providers.
  • Reducing the overcrowding and wait times in ERs, which are frequently used as a last resort by those unable to pay for medical care.
  • Providing insurance to low-wage workers to help maintain the labor force, especially in positions as important as childcare, and to make it simpler for small businesses to remain open.

According to Secretary Kinsley, "The people that are working in these businesses don't have health insurance right now because small businesses can't make that work. Medicaid expansion can close that gap. It helps those individuals to be healthy and well and support their families, and it helps small businesses thrive."

Read more by WRAL News

Read more by NC Health News

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