After nearly three months the North Carolina House of Representatives passed the state budget on Thursday night by a final vote of 81-33. Governor Pat McCory signed the $21.75 billion item Friday afternoon.
Among the items in the budget that will impact motorist are Driver Education and an expanded sales tax to include auto repairs.
In 2014, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to end funding for Driver Education starting July 1, 2015. Lawmakers had authorized school systems to charge a $65 fee for students enrolling in Driver Education. In March, Watauga County Schools Human Resources Director Dr. Stephen Martin said that the fee would bring in about $20,000 but would leave about $41,000 in costs that would have to be paid for by cutting other programs. At the time Martin added, “We very much hope the legislature will choose to fully restore driver education funding.” “If they do, we will refund any fees we have collected.”
With the passed budget, $24.1 million will fund Driver Education for fiscal year 2015-16, with future funding secured with late vehicle registration fees. The state has funded driver education in high schools since 1957.
The other budget item that will directly impact motorist is the expanded sales tax to include auto repairs. According to lawmakers the new revenue would go to help the poorer areas of the state. 79 counties in the state would see additional revenue. Data from the county-by-county distribution plans shows that Watauga and Avery are left out of the new revenue stream. Other counties left out are Alamance, Brunswick, Buncombe, Cabarrus, Carteret, Catawba, Currituck, Dare, Durham, Forsyth, Guilford, Iredell, Jackson, Macon, Mecklenburg, Moore, New Hanover, Surry and Wake. The expanded sales tax also includes appliance installations.
The expanded sales tax takes effect in March 2016, and is projected to generate more than $225 million over the next two years. For a more detailed look at the distribution plan click on any item below and it will open in a new window.