Republican lawmakers are giving Gov. Pat McCrory's budget a favorable rating -- particularly compared to his Democratic predecessor -- but Democrats are raising concerns about taking money from outside entities, particularly those focused on economic development and minority programs.
State Budget Director Art Pope presented the plan to lawmakers Thursday, a day after it was submitted to the legislature for consideration.
"If this was the budget bracket battle, this would go to the next round," Republican state Rep. Tom Murry said, playing office the start of March Madness. The previous governor's budget would have been eliminated in the first round.
But Democrats are concerned about gutting once-sacred cows, such as the Golden LEAF Foundation, N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and other programs that received money from the state commerce department.
At a budget hearing, black Democrats raised pointed questions about major cuts to programs such as the N.C. Minority Support Center, the Land Loss Prevention Project and the N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development. "It is insensitive in my opinion to remove three or four organizations completely out of the budget," said Rep. Alma Adams, a Greensboro Democrat, afterward. "I'm not sure the governor understands the value these organizations bring."
Pope defended the line-items but said the governor is open to revisiting items in the budget.