ATLANTA - North Carolina legislator are still wrestling with a 1993 capital budget and proposed legislation that would authorize about $400 million of new general obligation bonds.
The budget and bond bills were passed by the state Senate last week but await approval by the House of Representatives, where lawmakers had been counting on a now-defunct lottery bill for the debt's backing.
The Senate last week passed a 1993 capital budget that would authorize $81 million in cash spending for capital projects, according to Dave Crotts, senior analyst and economist for the Legislative Fiscal Office.
These funds would be taken from the state's fiscal 1992 yearend operating surplus, which totals $108 million, Mr. Crotts said. The remaining $27 million would be used to replenish the state's depleted rainy-day fund, he said.
The Senate also passed legislation authorizing a total of $378 million of new general obligation debt, Mr. Crotts said. This includes $271 million for the state's university system and $127 million of community colleges, he said.
The problem snarling approval in the House is the apparent demise during this legislative session of a bill to permit a state lottery in North Carolina, according to a legislative aide who declined to be identified. The legislative was approved by the Senate last year, but has so far been resisted by the House.
Supporters of a lottery in North Carolina have contended it could add about $175 million a year to state coffers, providing funding for debt service on bonds and cash for infrastructure projects.
The $378 million of GO bonds approved by the Senate represents a paring down of about $800 million in bonds that had originally been considered by lawmakers.
Heading the list of this proposed debt was a record request for $300 million of state GO bonds from the University of North Carolina system, $240 million of GOs for community colleges, and over $100 million of GOs for water and sewer improvements.
Meanwhile, the Legislature last week passed an $8.3 billion operating budget for fiscal 1993, which began July 1. Approval came after senators agreed to a compromise package that increased spending from the $8.15 billion budget passed last month by the House of Representatives.
The compromise plan raises state employees' pay, adds 714 new teachers, and targets new funding for mental health.
The state's $591 million of GOs are rated AAA by Standard & Poor's Corp. and Aaa by Moody's Investors Service. Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on the bonds to stable from negative last week, citing the state's efforts to diversify revenues and reestablish fiscal flexibility.