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News & Press: Updates for Members

State Budget Uncertainty and NASW Statements

Friday, June 28, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kay Castillo
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Kay Castillo, BSW, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Legislation; Registered Lobbyist

After two weeks of behind closed-door meetings, North Carolina legislators released a compromised budget plan this past Tuesday. The bill was immediately placed on the calendar in the North Carolina House and Senate. Since the bill was previously referred to an appointed Conference Committee (made up of leadership in the House and the Senate), no amendments were allowed on the floor. The House and Senate voted to approve the compromised budget by Thursday. The budget was then sent to the Governor. On Friday morning, Governor Cooper said he will veto the budget.

Based on priorities NASW-NC sent to the Conference Committee before they began their work, here are highlights from the compromised budget, House Bill 966:

  • School Social Work: NASW-NC requested to legislators to bring back master’s pay for school social workers. Unfortunately, this was not included in the budget. The budget does provide funds for school mental health staff and a new report will be due to local board of educations and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, in order to keep better tabs on which school districts need what type of mental health support personnel (including school social workers).
  • Increases foster care reimbursement rates and adoption assistance rates, effective July 1, 2020. Provides $6.9M to increase rates.
  • Cuts to LME/MCOs: According to NC DHHS, the budget underfunds Medicaid by more than $60 million.
  • Does not expand Medicaid. There is unusual language in the budget to encourage the Governor to call a special session to focus on access to health care across North Carolina, including issues pertaining to health insurance, association health plans, Medicaid, and Medicaid expansion.
  • Raise the Age: Increases funding for community programs to help serve youth. The budget appropriates $4.25M in 2019-2020 and $6.67M in 2020-2021.
  •  Funds for maternal and child infant health: Instead of funding the Division of Public Health’s programs for maternal and child infant health, funds are given to pregnancy care centers that are not evidenced-based.
  •  State employee pay raise: Provides for a 2.5% average raise for most state employees in each of the next two years. Some specific state agencies will get extra money for raises to help those agencies recruit and retain workers. Budget writers specifically highlighted the state's prison system as one of the agencies that will be getting extra money.
  • Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG): Expands the HCCBG, which provides in-home and community-based services in support of older adults and their unpaid primary caregivers.  Changes allow an estimated additional 1,500 individuals to be served in 2019-2020 and an estimated additional 2,725 individuals to be served in 2020-2021.
  • Provides Social Services Block Grant: Funds $893,041 in each year of the biennium to increase the number of Adult Protective Services workers in local county departments of social services. 

What’s next? None of the above points are officially law since the budget was vetoed and legislators have not overridden the veto. Per legislative rules, the House will have to take up a veto override first. They are on vacation until Monday, July 8th so no votes are likely until then. The Senate is committed to leaving the legislature in early July. It is possible legislators will adjourn this session and come back in a few months to work on another state budget. Since the state fiscal year starts Monday, July 1st, the state will operate on last year’s budget with no new money or grants until a new state budget is figured out.


Governor Cooper and First Lady Celebrate Pride Month
On Wednesday, June 26th, Governor Cooper and the First Lady hosted an event at the Governor’s Mansion to celebrate Pride Month. The Governor and the First Lady highlighted how far our state has come and read
the proclamation issued earlier this month. NASW-NC was ecstatic to attend the event and thanked the Governor and First Lady for promoting the dignity and worth of LGBT North Carolinians.

 

NASW Statements

On June 24th, NASW issued a press release condemning the Trump Administration’s planned raids on migrant families. NASW is committed to doing all it can to continue to push back against harmful immigration policies and tactics, which are an affront to our nation’s values. Click here to read the press release.

 

On June 21st, NASW released a statement saying the cash bail system should be abolished across the nation because it discriminates against people of color, women, and people who are lower income. Click here to read the press release. The release comes on the heels of NASW’s new Social Justice Brief on how abolishing the cash bail system would promote social justice.


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