A Pitt County Republican legislator voted against the state’s proposed $21 billion budget because of provisions he said will harm East Carolina University.
Rep. Brian Brown, R-Pitt, said he hopes the problem will be corrected when the House works on technical corrections to the legislation that will fund state operations through next June.
“Not voting for this budget, it was extremely difficult, but it was the right thing to do at this point,” Brown said Tuesday. “I was sent to Raleigh to represent the people of Pitt County and the 9th District, (which encompasses) a large portion of ECU.”The House gave preliminary approval to the budget on Tuesday and is scheduled to take a final vote and make technical corrections today.
There are provisions in the budget that will restrict Medicaid payments to ECU Physicians, a medical practice operated by the faculty of the Brody School of Medicine, Brown said.
“It’s estimated that if ECU hadn’t received this funding last year it would have operated $8 million in the red,” Brown said.
The provisions also would reduce Medicaid payments to the UNC School of Medicine to a lesser degree, Brown said.
The House leadership was researching Brown’s concerns on Tuesday.
“I think everybody is very receptive to what the need is, and I think it is one of those unintended consequences,” he said.
“I don’t think anybody on either side would say (the budget) is a perfect bill,” he said.
Brown said he was unhappy with the cuts to teacher assistants and that the state no longer will increase the pay of teachers obtaining advanced degrees. He called a $1.5 million cut to the Walter B. Jones Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Center “a grave mistake.”
However, he would have supported the budget if not for the Medicaid cut.
“I believe the House and Senate have crafted a bill that can potentially streamline fiscal accountability and promote sound improvements within North Carolina,” he said.
Pitt County’s other representatives, Susan Martin, R-Wilson, and Jean Farmer-Butterfield, R-Wilson, were unavailable for comment. A breakdown of the House vote was not available.
Contact Ginger Livingston at email@example.com or 252-329-9570.