The State Senate budget proposal includes $300,000 to upgrade training services offered by the Manufacturing Solutions Center and the Textile Technology Center. The Senate debated its budget last Thursday, a day after textiles and hosiery executives visited leaders in both the House and Senate to encourage the state investment. Yet, on Thursday it was learned that a senior budget writer had opposed the appropriation and it was omitted from the draft. However Sen. Jerry Tillman of Randolph County, who has supported the centers for years, would have none of it. He put forth an amendment in the Appropriations Committee that restored the funds. It was adopted with a bipartisan majority.
Sen. Tillman has been a loyal supporter over the years. He is a business-friendly legislator who chairs the Senate Education Appropriations Committee. For him, the centers are all about jobs.
NOW IT’S THE HOUSE’S TURN
This week the House Appropriations Committees began a review of the Senate version. Many House members—most in fact—are not happy. We look for significant changes when the two chambers go into conference. House leaders do not believe the state can afford 11 percent pay increases for teachers without pushing expenses down to local governments.
Top House budget leaders assured the hosiery and textiles executives they will support the provisions for the centers. We will be on the scene to work with House budget-writers as the process moves forward. House budget leaders include Reps. Linda Johnson of Cabarrus, John Torbett of Gaston, Craig Horne of Union, Bryan Holloway of Stokes, Huge Blackwell of Burke, and Charles McGrady of Henderson.
When the “short session” for the General Assembly began in mid May, top leaders were forecasting a mid June adjournment. House Speaker Thom Tillis has a statewide campaign in his bid to unseat U.S. Kay Hagan. Sen. President Phil Berger plans to campaign for his son, Phil Jr., who has a July 15 primary. Both would like to get out soon. The Senate already has wrapped up most of its legislative priorities.
But House members are dubious. One senior House Appropriations chair predicted it could be August before a budget is thrashed out. We may be facing a long hot summer.