RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As teachers and state employees in North Carolina wait on an approved budget to know what their income will look like, Democrats are pointing criticism at Republicans for leaving Raleigh with no resolution. 

Negotiations continue to span well beyond July 1, the start of the state’s new fiscal year. At the same time, some Republican lawmakers are receiving criticism for keeping their summer travel plans from vacations to conferences. 

“You cannot call yourself fiscal conservatives when you knowingly waste taxpayer money while you run on the clock and go on vacation and playing political partisan games instead of doing what your job actually entitles you to do,” said Anderson Clayton, chair of the NC Democratic Party.  

NC Senate President pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) spoke to CBS 17 about the issue Tuesday at the General Assembly when asked about potential plans to leave the country in the next few days. He said earlier in the week he doesn’t anticipate votes on the budget until mid-September at the earliest.  

“The reason we’re not going to see the budget in the next week or two weeks is because of those things that we’ve got to work through,” he said. 

Berger said in response to the question of his vacation plans that he typically doesn’t talk about his “private schedule.” 

“Suffice it to say whether I’m here, whether I’m in Eden, or whether I’m somewhere else, I’m available,” Berger added. 

So, where does the state’s budget actually stand? Berger and NC House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) have met several times in Raleigh over the last few weeks. 

They’ve reached agreements on tax cuts and pay raises but still have not resolved issues like expanded gaming and how to spend one-time money on things such as water and sewer projects. 

Republicans are not revealing the specifics of the raises or tax package they plan to pass. The GOP holds a veto-proof supermajority and likely will be able to enact a budget even if Gov. Roy Cooper (D) objects.  

“The Speaker and I had a number of things that we needed to work through in order to enable our full (appropriations) chairs to finalize some other things. We have largely worked through those things,” Berger said. 

Berger said lawmakers would continue to hold meetings over the next two weeks.  

Gov. Cooper has blasted Republicans for the holdup. This week, he’s going across the state to hold events regarding Medicaid expansion. While the General Assembly voted earlier this year to expand coverage to more than half a million people after years of debate, they made it contingent on the state budget passing. 

State health officials have said they would need lawmakers to either pass a budget by Sept. 1 or separate Medicaid expansion from the budget in order to begin coverage Oct. 1.  

“As schools open facing chronic teacher, bus driver and resource shortages and while thousands of working people every week are kicked off of their health insurance because Medicaid Expansion hasn’t started, it’s time for legislators to work nights and weekends to get a budget passed before the end of the month,” said Jordan Monaghan, a spokesperson for Gov. Cooper, in a statement.  

On Wednesday, advocates for Medicaid expansion held a press conference outside the legislature, saying lawmakers are “gambling with people’s lives.” They were referring to the closed-door discussions Republicans are having about whether to authorize additional casinos as part of the state budget.  

“How many times do we need to stand outside this building and tell the stories of people who are suffering because of your inaction?” asked Rev. Lisa Garcia-Sampson, of the NC Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry. 

Sen. Berger said expansion needs to remain tied to the budget given the large amount of money involved and noted that the negotiations on what to do with the money the state will receive for expansion are continuing. 

“Those who have expressed concerns about whether or not we’re going to do expansion, we’re planning to spend the money. So, I think that means we’re going to do the expansion,” he said.