2013 Legislative Report
By – Dick Carlton, Lobbyist
The North Carolina General Assembly adjourned its 2013 long session on Friday, July 26, 2013. The House and the Senate agreed on a $20.6 billion budget for the next two years and a tax reform package. The most challenging issue with the budget was how to cover the spiraling Medicaid cost. This made the legislature have to be very careful with all of the other spending.
The North Carolina National Guard Association and its Legislative Committee worked very hard to promote the interest of its Association and the National Guard. We worked with the leadership in both the House and Senate on a weekly basis to promote our legislative agenda.
One major agenda item for the Association was to request an increase for the National Guard state pension program. While the legislature’s priority this time was to make sure all of the state pensions were sound, they are very aware of the need to give a significant cost of living increase to the National Guard pension plan. The big hole in the Medicaid budget and the general economy, however, prevented the Senate from recommending any increase this year. Leadership in the House made efforts to increase the pension, but at the end of the day, they decided not to do it this year. The General Assembly did appear to put the State’s finances on solid ground after several years of a terrible economy in North Carolina. I truly believe that the N. C. National Guard Association has positioned itself to be successful in getting the pension increased in the very near future.
Representative Justin Burr of Stanly County stepped up to the plate big time for Tarheel Challenge by securing the funds necessary for expansion of this most worthy program to include renovations to the Tarheel Challenge campus in New London, N. C. Representative Burr is a Chairman of the House Appropriation Committee, and he has always been very supportive of National Guard issues.
The General Assembly also appropriated money to address maintenance needs at the State’s 93 National Guard Readiness Centers and for the repair and renovation of the armories.
So our elective representatives have left Raleigh, and they will not reconvene for session until next year. Until then, the North Carolina National Guard Association must continue to build its legislative grass roots organization. Personal contact with elected officials is critical to our future success. Thanks to all Association members who have helped us lobby our elected officials this year, and I look forward to working with you in the future.