Rep. Jon Hardister Releases Statement on 2019-20 State Budget
Raleigh, NC – This week the NC House and Senate released their conference report agreement on the state budget. It is a $24 billion spending plan for the 2019-20 biennium.
Statement from Hardister:
This is a fiscally responsible budget for the citizens of North Carolina. We kept spending below the growth rate of inflation and population, and we did this while increasing funds for the core services of government.
State employees will receive a five percent pay raise in this year’s budget. Pay steps for teachers will be fully-funded and teachers will receive an average 3.9 percent pay increase. It is important that we take care of state employees who work hard to serve our citizens, and this budget accomplishes that goal.
This budget increases funds for school safety grants as well as for mental health professionals within our public schools. We also allocated additional funds for 1,000 additional Innovation Waiver slots, which allow individuals with intellectual and physical disabilities to access home-and-community-based care. We also increased funding for foster care services. These foster care services will largely be administered by the Children’s Home Society, based in Greensboro.
Public safety is a major component of this budget, as we directed more resources to the Human Trafficking Commission, increased funds for state crime labs, including the testing of sexual assault kits, and enhanced funds for prison security equipment. We also directed $3.5 million to the Clean Water & Drinking Water program to address concerns related to water contamination.
We allocated $3.4 billion dollars towards capital needs for state property, and we did this without incurring any debt. There will be $1.5 billion in funding allocated for school construction, which will be remitted to school districts for school repair and construction. Again, all of this is done with careful multi-year planning, and it is done with zero debt.
Funding for the transformation of Medicaid from a fee-for-service model to a managed care model are provided in this year’s budget. This will help to enhance health care services while making the system more cost-effective.
Transportation is effectively funded in this budget. We covered funding for DMV improvements, road construction, and the operation of ports, as well as grants for air port operations.
This budget also includes tax reductions for individuals in the form of a five percent increase for standard deductions, primarily benefiting lower-income families. There is also a reduction in the franchise tax, which will encourage business growth and investment.
Guilford County fares very well in this year’s budget.
A&T University will receive $7.5 million for their doctoral programs as well as $1.6 million in matching funds for federal research grants. A&T University also receives $18.5 million for the renovation of Carver Hall. This will help to enhance North Carolina’s flagship HBCU, a major asset for education and economic development.
UNC-Greensboro will receive a total of $84 million to renovate the Jackson Library, which is in desperate need of upgrades and expansion. The library was built when the university had approximately 6,000 students; there are now over 20,000 students. This is a much-needed project that will enhance the campus and modernize the university.
Greensboro would receive $1 million from the disaster relief fund for recovery from the tornado that hit the area in 2018. It is important that we assist in these recovery efforts, and this grant will go a long way towards accomplishing that goal. Several small towns in the county, including Gibsonville, Pleasant Garden, Sedalia and Whitsett will receive small town development grants.
The planned behavioral health project between Guilford County and Cone Health will receive $7.7 million for construction costs. This will help the project get off the ground so we can more effectively deliver mental health services in our region.
The North Carolina Folk Festival will receive a $100,000 grant, which the event can use for operational and marketing purposes. These funds will enhance the success of the event, generating economic activity and bringing tourism to the region. Studies have indicated that the economic impact of the festival is upwards of $12 million per year.
Guilford County Schools will receive $28.7 million for school construction costs, as part of the overall $1.5 billion in funds from the State Capital Infrastructure Fund. Again, this would be done with zero debt incurred.
Another major component of the budget for Guilford County is funding for the High Point Furniture Market, the largest furniture market event in the nation. This event attracts tens of thousands of visitors to our region each year, generating millions of dollars in economic impact.
It is my hope that Governor Roy Cooper will choose to sign this bill into law. This is a sound, responsible spending plan that will move our State in a positive direction. It is time to set politics aside and do what is right for the citizens of North Carolina.
~ Rep. Jon Hardister
NC House Majority Whip
STATE BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS
Salaries and Benefits
- Most state employees get a 5% salary increase – the largest salary increase in more than a decade.
- Teachers will receive an average raise of 3.9% over the biennium.
- Teachers with 25+ years of experience get a $500 bonus in each year of the biennium.
- Provides 5 non-expiring Bonus Leave days for eligible State employees and Community College employees.
- Provides funding for a one-time 0.5% Retiree Supplement for each year of the biennium.
K-12 Public Education
- Increases funding for public education by more than $1.43 billion over two years.
- Invests more than $91 million in school safety measures to protect children in schools, including $52 million in new recurring funding for additional mental health professionals and school resource officers.
- Allocates $4.4 billion over the next 10 years for a statewide school construction initiative.
- Provides $3 million to provide free meals for students currently eligible for only reduced-price lunches.
- Adds $15 million in new funding for classroom supplies, and provides $150 per teacher in the first year and $200 in the second year for teachers to purchase classroom supplies.
- Total Community College Capital Funding over 10 years – $400 million
- Fully funds the request from community colleges for workforce development training programs.
- Increases funding for the community colleges career coaches program.
- $632 million in capital projects for the UNC System and $90.8 million in capital for Community Colleges.
- Continues the commitment to N.C. Promise, giving students an opportunity to attend three state universities for only $500 a semester.
Health and Human Services
- Provides $15 million to increase access to substance abuse treatment and recovery options and to fight the opioid epidemic.
- Invests $4 million over the biennium to the Smart Start program to improve early childhood literacy, enhance parenting skills, and increase access to quality child care centers.
- Allocates $4.5 million over two years for the Rural Health Loan Repayment Program which recruits doctors, dentists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives into rural areas.
- Provides over $2 million for prescription drug assistance programs that serve uninsured North Carolinians.
- Funds an additional $2.6 million across the biennium to safety net clinics, inclusive of community health centers and free and charitable clinics.
Justice and Public Safety
- Provides $70 million over the biennium to implement “Raise the Age.” This includes funding for court counselors, administrative and management positions, detention beds, community-based and residential programs, and county-based Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils.
- Allocates $6 million over two years to clear the rape kit backlog
- Implements Standing Up for Rape Victims Survivor Act to ensure no backlog in the future.
- Appropriates $477,000 to the Human Trafficking Commission, plus $1.5 million to the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) for human trafficking investigations.
- Implements recommendations from the Human Trafficking Commission.
Taxes, Economic Development and Savings
- The standard deduction will increase to $21,000, which marks a $15,000 increase since Republicans took control of the General Assembly.
- The budget also reduces the franchise tax rate to $0.96 per $1,000 of net worth.
- Extends Historic rehabilitation tax credit.
- Transfers an additional $710 million into the Savings Reserve Account.
- Provides $15 million recurring each year for the expanded broadband capabilities in rural areas through the GREAT Program established by the General Assembly in 2018, committing to $150 million in funding over the next decade.
Agriculture and the Environment
- Provides more than $43 million over two years for the creation of new State and local parks and for the preservation of North Carolina’s natural treasures.
- Allocates more than $39 million over the biennium to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund for land preservation and clean water projects.
- Provides $18 million and establishes a framework for the creation of the viable utility reserve, which will provide grants for distressed water and wastewater systems throughout North Carolina.
- Provides additional funding to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, which is a federal-state partnership to help ensure safe drinking water.
- Allocates $450,000 for cost share assistance to swine farmers to install equipment to produce biogas.
- Invests more than $23 million over the next two years in railroad infrastructure, including improving commuter rail, train stations, and locomotives.
- Appropriates an additional $100 million over the biennium for improvement to airports across North Carolina.
- Invests almost $530 million over the next two years in the Bridge Program to help maintain, repair, and replace bridges across North Carolina.
- Allocates $11 million over two years to the North Carolina Ports Authority to raise power lines to allow bigger vessels to come into the Port of Wilmington and keep North Carolina competitive in the shipping industry.
- Provides $7.4 million in recurring Powell Bill funding to fund the building and maintenance of roads in small towns and cities.
Other Key Highlights
- Allocates $1.1 million to the State Board of Elections to continue to implement North Carolina’s voter ID requirements pursuant to the voter-supported constitutional amendment
- Provides funding to create a suicide prevention program for active duty military and veterans.
- Provides $2 million to sustain and maintain the state’s military programs and activities by providing grants for local communities or military installations, updates to strategic planning, federal advocacy, and identification or measures to increase the military value of installations.
- Expands the type of cancers covered as occupational diseases for firefighters’ death benefits to include oral cavity and pharynx cancer.
- Provides $1 million for the continuing upgrade of statewide cybersecurity capabilities.