NC lawmakers give state budget preliminary OK

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - North Carolina legislators are taking their first votes on a proposed budget of nearly $21 billion to fund state operations for this year.

The state House and Senate gave the spending plan preliminary approval Tuesday. Final votes are set for Wednesday.

The budget offers no pay raises for state employees and teachers, but provides five additional vacation days. The plan offers $10 million to compensate victims of the state's forced sterilization program. It cuts education spending from kindergarten to public universities by $480 million over two years.

Republican House leaders say the budget covers spiraling Medicaid costs, funds state employee health insurance and retirement obligations, cuts taxes by more than $500 million over two years, and sets aside another $600 million in case of surprises.

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