Gov. Perdue released her proposed budget last week, and while I do not agree with every item in her plan, the governor has the right priorities for our state — education, jobs, economic development and appreciation for our military. Her budget would increase education spending in North Carolina by $785 million instead of continuing to short change our children as the legislative majority did this year.
As I prepare for the legislative session that begins Wednesday, I wanted to share some key points about the governor’s proposal. Legislative budget writers will release their proposal soon, as well, possibly as soon as next week. I expect to see continued cuts to our schools and teachers — which I do NOT like. Our students and teachers in both Union and Anson have suffered too much already.
Investing in education is among the most important things state government can do. It prepares our children to compete in the 21st century global economy. CEOs thinking about investing or expanding in North Carolina care about education because it ensures them a pipeline of well-trained workers, and helps them attract and recruit top-quality employees who demand good schools for their children.
Gov. Perdue’s budget reverses the deep and unnecessary cuts made last year and returns to our historic tradition of investing in schools. Her budget would:
- Ensure that there are more caring adults to educate our children by creating more than 11,000 education positions across North Carolina.
- Lower class size in grades K-3.
- Unfreeze salaries and give teachers and principals a pay increase for the first time in four years (1.8 percent for teachers and approximately 1.54 percent for school administrators).
- Recruit, train and support teachers by restoring our investments in the Teaching Fellows program, the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Teacher Cadet program.
- Restore funding for the Governor’s Schools, N.C. School for the Deaf, Eastern School for the Deaf, and Governor Morehead School.
- Invest in community colleges and public universities: $53 million more for community colleges and better funding for North Carolina’s public universities, including $35 million to help ensure that working families across North Carolina can afford to send their children to our state’s public universities.
North Carolina is consistently ranked as one of the most business-friendly states in America, with a well-trained and highly-motivated workforce that makes our state an ideal place for businesses to invest and expand. Some of the budget initiatives designed to stimulate economic growth and help companies create jobs for North Carolinians include:
- A credit to encourage small businesses to hire post-911 veterans or unemployed North Carolinians now and retain them for at least a year.
- Tools to spur angel investments in promising entrepreneurial small businesses.
- A small Business Startup Tax Incentive.
- A Robust Research and Development Innovation Tax Credit.
- Funding for the One NC Small Business Fund, which provides matching funds to assist small, high-growth, high-tech businesses across the state secure competitive federal grant funding.
- Funding to expand export opportunities for N.C. manufacturing small businesses.
To aid job creation in industries, such as manufacturing, the budget will:
- Institute a Film Industry Workforce Training program, which will provide funds to Cape Fear Community College and Forsyth Technical Community College to train up to 400 workers for production crews.
- Invest in the Biotechnology Strategic Growth Loan Fund to support technology-based, entrepreneurial companies with an already established technical proof-of-concept.
- Fund an AgBiotech Initiative to provide targeted funding for certain commercially promising ag-biotech research projects in North Carolina.
- Invest in an Energy Research and Green Jobs initiative to provide funds to Research Triangle Institute (RTI) to support energy research and green jobs; and invest in the North Carolina New Energy Production Initiative, which provides funds to promote energy production in North Carolina and in state and federal waters offshore, and explores new manufacturing opportunities linked to low natural gas prices.
We must honor the sacrifice of our brave servicemen and women while preserving and enhancing North Carolina’s well-earned reputation as the most military-friendly state in America. The proposed budget provides funds to improve the quality-of-life in communities where military installations are located. These initiatives include:
- Providing tuition assistance by classifying certain military veterans (and their dependents) as resident students for tuition purposes. (A military veteran must have been last stationed at a military installation in North Carolina and honorably discharged on or after July 1, 2011.)
- Hiring regional military counselors who perform military culture training for counselors, teachers and administrators, provide deployment support to schools, assist with crisis intervention, connect students with community agencies, and provide information on student opportunities, such as summer camps and college scholarships.
- Directing additional money to the National Guard to provide tuition assistance to all eligible soldiers and airmen.
- Encouraging small businesses to hire veterans and unemployed North Carolinians by providing a credit of up to $5,000 to companies that hire post-911 veterans or persons unemployed for greater than 180 days.
- Providing funds to restore the 2011-12 reduction made to the Military Business Center at Fayetteville Technical Community College. This program works with communities and companies to develop and obtain federal business opportunities, including the U.S. military, at North Carolina military installations.
- Support the hiring of additional faculty at UNC-W for the Accelerated Nursing Program. This 16-month program, based in Onslow County, will be targeted towards non-nursing veterans, military personnel, or the spouses of military personnel who have a bachelor’s degree. The program provides a faster pathway towards careers in nursing and serves the community by increasing the supply of qualified nursing professionals.
- Re-establishing the Military Morale and Welfare fund, a grants program for military installations throughout the state to provide community service and quality of life programs for military members and their families.
- Providing funding and strategy for military communities to plan and position themselves favorably in preparation for potential future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) actions and/or federal budget actions that affect North Carolina installations. Funds will support community planning, strategic communication, training range encroachment, and other needs identified in coordination with military and Department of Defense leadership.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our state, and please contact me if I can be of assistance. To view the governor’s full budget proposal, you can visit http://osbm.nc.gov/thebudget