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Reverse Logrolling the NC State Budget

In his most recent research brief, JLF Senior Fellow Joe Coletti explains that the two chambers of the General Assembly must now meet and piece together a compromise before sending the budget off to the governor’s desk – likely to be vetoed. Coletti suggests an approach to negotiations he refers to as “reverse logrolling” or a “consensus-based” budget. Coletti explains:

Traditional logrolling takes spending that one person or group wants and adds it to the spending that another person or group wants. Higher overall spending is the result. Reverse logrolling 1) drops the items that would increase spending in either budget, 2) takes the lower spending when an item is in common but the amount is not, and 3) accepts cuts wherever they occur.

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2019-20, this yields a budget of just $23.5 billion, $432 million less than either the House or the Senate appropriated and just $288 million more than the base budget.

Coletti writes that, while the House and Senate budget proposals may look similar, they have major differences. Coletti writes:

Look deeper, however, and the differences are not simply that the Senate dedicates an additional $699 million in cash balance and tax revenues to savings, capital, hurricane recovery, and unreserved cash balances. In fact, just $18 million in net new spending ($83 million in new recurring expenditures and $65 million in one-time cuts) is common between the two budgets.

In addition, Coletti reports that the Senate includes $139 million more in the State Capital and Infrastructure Fund (SCIF) than the House. Within that, there are varying capital projects with differing amounts attributed to each. According to Coletti:

Applying the reverse logrolling model to take the lowest amount for common capital projects (and ignore those not in common) would yield projects totaling $1.07 billion

That is $120 million less than the House’s proposal and $260 million less than the Senate’s. That is not where the saving ends, though. According to Coletti:

There are nearly 300 items that only one chamber would have funded and thus are excluded from the reverse logrolling budget.

That is 300 items that entirely would be removed from the budget using this method, but in total, Coletti says:

Most of the remaining parts of the budget have room for lower spending in one chamber compared to the other.

Read the full brief here. Learn more about NC spending and taxes here.

Brenee Goforth / Marketing and Communications Associate

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