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Capitol Roundup is NC Farms Bureau’s weekly video and email report that summarizes key legislative developments and explains in clear terms how those developments affect agriculture.

NCGA approves, Cooper signs $25.9B budget

After months of negotiations, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a $25.9B budget Thursday, and Gov. Roy Cooper signed it into law the same day. For the last two years, state government had been funded at spending levels set by the 2018-19 fiscal year budget. The new budget, SB 105, the Current Operations Appropriations Act of 2021, includes funding for a number of agricultural priorities, including:

  • $40 million for food banks;
  • $10 million for the Golden LEAF Foundation to establish a grant program to assist nonprofit organizations in becoming partner agencies with food banks;
  • $17 million for Meat and Seafood Processing Grants;
  • $30 million for the new Swine and Dairy Assistance Program;
  • $50 million for the Crop Loss Assistance Grants, which provides Tropical Storm Fred relief for agricultural producers;
  • $38 million for a new Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program;
  • $11 million over 2 years for the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission ($5 million is new, non-recurring funding);
  • $5 million for the North Carolina SweetPotato Commission for nematode research;
  • $4 million for N.C. State University to construct a new apiculture research facility;
  • $26 million over 2 years for the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund ($16 million is new, non-recurring funding);
  • And $126.4 million for the NC Rural Center to implement various programs.

The budget also provides supplemental funding for the N.C. State Fair and the Western NC Agricultural Center to help offset financial losses during the pandemic. Also of note in the budget is $1 billion to expand broadband and $500 million for a new N.C. Department of Revenue Business Recovery Grant Program.

The budget also makes a number of changes to the tax code, including:

  • A deduction for Paycheck Protection Program loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans;
  • A reduction in the individual income tax rate from 5.25 percent at present to 3.99 percent over the next six years, starting at 4.99 percent in the first year;
  • An increase in the standard deduction for married couples to $25,500 ($21,500 at present) and for single filers to $12,750 ($10,750 at present). Child deductions would increase by $500;
  • And, a phaseout of the corporate tax (currently 2.5 percent) by the end of the decade, beginning in 2025.

The budget also includes a provision limiting the Governor’s emergency powers. Emergency closure orders and other statewide emergency
declarations in place longer than 30 days would require Council of State approval and longer than 60 days would require the legislature’s
permission. Gov. Cooper has said he will challenge this provision.

The budget is likely to be the last major action of the 2021 long session, but lawmakers are expected to remain in Raleigh for a bit longer.
In addition to the budget work, the state legislature recently completed redistricting work and approved new political maps for the next decade. North Carolina recently gained a 14th U.S. House seat, and the new maps set the U.S. House, N.C. House, and N.C. Senate districts. Lawsuits contesting the maps have been filed.

For more information about these bills or any others of interest, visit the North Carolina General Assembly website, www.ncleg.gov. Bills are searchable by bill number and subject.

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