Yet, another week begins with the expectation of a vote on the North Carolina state budget.

Last week the vote was held up by a disagreement between the state House and Senate over whether to include legislation to legalize more casinos in the state.

The Carolina Journal is reporting that the current deal is to remove the casino legislation from the budget bill and let that bill move forward.  Both the state House and Senate are controlled by Republicans, and other than the dispute over gambling, leaders in both chambers have said that a budget deal has been reached.

According to the Carolina Journal, the current deal is that both gaming and legislation to expand Medicaid will be removed from the budget bill and will be placed in a separate bill that is also supposed to be voted on this week.

Gov. Roy Cooper has been pushing for Medicaid expansion since he ran for his first term in 2016.  In 2019, the state failed to pass a budget because Cooper vetoed every budget that didn’t include Medicaid expansion and the Republican legislature refused to pass a budget that included Medicaid expansion.

Since Medicaid expansion was included in the state budget, it was assumed that Cooper would hold his nose and sign the budget in order to pass Medicaid expansion.  Without Medicaid expansion in the budget bill, whether Cooper will sign it or veto it is an open question.  However, the Republicans have veto-proof majorities in both the state House and Senate, so if Cooper vetoes the budget, the Republicans have the votes to override that veto.

Coupling Medicaid expansion with the gaming legislation appears to be an attempt to pass the gaming legislation with Democratic support.

State House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) has said that he didn’t have enough Republican votes in the House to pass the budget if it included gaming legislation.

However, one would expect a bill that included Medicaid expansion to win the support of a good number of Democrats.

It’s another unexpected twist in a long legislative year, and there may be more twists and turns before it’s over.