RALEIGH, N.C. — Victims of a decades-old forced sterilization program in North Carolina will have to wait on compensation because legislators did not include any money for them in a state budget deal, in part because Republican leaders could not agree on how to respond to the victims.
North Carolina was the first state in the nation to tackle the question of how much to give victims of the program, which lasted from 1929 to 1974 and sterilized more than 7,600 people. The program was aimed at creating a “better society” by weeding out people deemed ‘‘feeble-minded,’’ many of them poor women.
The state House had agreed to provide $50,000 to victims who were alive as of March 1, 2010, but the effort faltered in the Senate. Many Republicans raised questions about the potential total cost of providing $50,000 to each living victim and whether offering compensation would open the door to other groups of people to seek damages for previous misguided activities by the state.
‘‘There’s a very strong message from the Senate that they’re not prepared to take it up this year,’’ House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, told reporters in announcing details of next year’s proposed $20.2 billion budget agreement.
The two chambers will vote on the compromise later this week before it goes to the governor.