NC 2018-2019 budget includes funding for WNC projects

NC budget: Kidsenses, Public Defender, WEG, Opoid Abuse program, Cybersecurity center, and the WNC Farmers Market

The General Assembly gave final approval to the state’s 2018-2019 budget on June 22, addressing many county priorities in the legislation. Three of NCACC’s top five goals  –were addressed in the budget –

  • increasing revenue for school capital needs,
  • raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction,
  • and more funds for transportation infrastructure.

Specifically, it provides a 75 percent increase in lottery funding for school construction. Three  HHS goals related to community paramedicine and behavioral health resources, adult care and protective services, and early childhood education.

The 2017 Budget Act is in the hands of Governor Cooper, and speculation abounds on whether he will sign or veto it. In the case of a veto, the legislature will attempt an override vote, as both chambers passed the legislation with veto-proof majorities.

Education

  • Allocates $100 million from lottery proceeds to the Public School Building Capital Fund
  • Adds $30 million in FY 2018 and $75 million in FY 2019 to a newly-created Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund (NCACC priority goal #1)
    • For grants to Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties
    • For new construction only
    • Matching requirement – $1 for every $3 received in Tier 1 counties with a grant cap of $15 million; $1 for every $1 received in Tier 2 counties with a grant cap of $10 million
    • Counties that receive grants from the needs-based fund are ineligible for allocation from the capital fund for five years, increasing availability from the capital fund to other counties
  • Net revenues greater than appropriated amounts each year shall be transferred into the Needs-Based fund, with the stated intent to increase the percentage of lottery proceeds dedicated to school capital needs to 40 percent over time
  • Continues to fund non-instructional support personnel from lottery revenue, and uses $43 million in lottery resources to fund LEA transportation needs in FY 2018
  • Provides some limited class size flexibility for K-3 in six school systems for pilot programs and language immersion classes
  • Allows the State Board of Education to allot additional teachers in some isolated schools and allocates $500,000 for this purpose
  • Establishes an interagency council between the departments of Health and Human Services and Public Instruction to address early education needs from birth through grade three
  • Creates a one-year pilot program to provide transportation funds to charter schools through grants and transfers $2.5 million from the Department of Transportation to fund the program

Health and Human Services

  • Includes $2 million for new child-focused behavioral health crisis facilities and $17 million for additional inpatient behavioral health beds at five hospitals across the state (HHS-1)
  • Continues the community paramedicine pilot program in three counties with $350,000 in funding (HHS-1)
  • Directs DHHS to establish a plan using Medicaid funds to reimburse county paramedics for transportation to behavioral health facilities instead of emergency departments (HHS-1)
  • Provides additional resources for early childhood education using $3 million in FY18 and $6.1 million in FY19 combined with $18.8 million in TANF block grants across both years to reduce the NC Pre-K waitlist (HHS-2)
  • Provides an additional $1 million for 21 new positions over the next two years to increase staff and improve timeliness of inspections at various adult care facilities; appropriates over $100,000 in each year to fund background checks for long term care staff (HHS-3)
  • Provides additional state level resources for opioid and substance abuse management, including $250,000 to New Hanover County specifically, and redirects federal grants to specific opioid use treatment and recovery services (Aligns with NCACC President Fred McClure’s Presidential Initiative)
  • Implements additional state level training, oversight, and corrective action plan processes to help with county DSS Medicaid eligibility accuracy
    • Similar to the current process for Medicaid timeliness
    • Would also penalize counties by requiring repayment of Medicaid claims resulting from inaccurate eligibility determinations
    • Would include annual audits beginning in 2019 and a DHHS-designed training and certification program for county caseworkers
  • Reduces funding for LME/MCOs by $86.9 million in total ($31.5 million recurring) in the first year and $90.6 million ($36 million recurring) in the second year
    • Some reductions reinvested in community services such as $2.5 million each year for three-way behavioral health crisis beds
    • Reductions could be offset by up to $30 million in each year if the Medicaid budget has a surplus
  • Provides $10.8 million in additional funds for NC FAST operations, maintenance and system development, including a child welfare case management system
  • Sets aside $161,439 in FY 2018 and $3,229,695 in FY 2019 to implement the Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act as passed in House Bill 630
  • Increases funding for community health centers by $7.5 million each year and provides funds to local health departments to supplement local funding for school nurses
  • Temporarily funds $5 million each year from the state for facilities that utilize state-county special assistance funds; requires a 50% match from counties and will expire the earlier of June 30, 2019 or when all state funds are expended
  • Provides $18.2 million from TANF block grants for training and personnel for county DSS child welfare and protective services
  • Adjusts the child care subsidy allocation formula and requires counties with higher demand and spending than their allocation to submit a plan to DHHS prior to receiving additional funds

Justice and Public Safety

  • Raises the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 18 and provides $519,600 in FY 2018 and $478,000 in FY 2019 for planning to implement the change (NCACC priority goal #5)
  • Appropriates $13.2 million for the construction of a new youth development center to implementthe Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (NCACC priority goal #5)
  • Provides funds for a Wilmington pilot project to establish Quick Response Teams to respond to opiate and heroin overdose emergencies.
  • Eliminates funding for inmate Litter Crews and Road Squads
  • Appropriates $650,000 recurring for a pilot project between Pamlico Community College and Pamlico Correctional Institution to reduce recidivism
  • Allows the Department of Public Safety to reimburse counties at a rate of no more than $40.00 a day for the housing of offenders awaiting transfer to state facilities; and requires the Department to report on how much they spend annually on these reimbursements
  • Appropriates $4.1 million non-recurring for the construction of new VIPER towers across the state; provides $605,089 in FY 2017 and $678,077 in FY 2018 for additional VIPER tower operating funds
  • Defines State Highway Patrol as a PSAP for the purposes of 911 grant eligibility
  • Provides $250,000 to the Administrative Office of the Courts to study rural judicial districts
  • Funds 31 new Assistant District Attorney positions and 67 new Deputy Clerk Positions across the state (JPS-2)
  • Establishes a magistrate/clerk staffing pilot project in Surry County

Economic Development

  • Establishes the NC Ready Sites Fund in the NC Deparetment of Commerce and appropriates $2 million to assist local governments in tier one and two counties with development of infrastructure around industrial sites to help attract economic investment (T&F-2)
  • Extends JDIG sunset to 2021 and adds an exemption from JDIG maximum grants to “transformative projects” with a private investment of at least $4 billion projected to create at least 5,000 jobs
  • Funds various targeted economic development grants to help local governments with specific projects
  • Provides $15 million recurring in FY 2018 and $31 million recurring in FY 2019 for the Film and Entertainment Grant Fund, reversing the trend in recent budgets that provided non-recurring dollars.

Transportation

  • Increases funding to the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program by $320 million by the end of FY 2019 (NCACC priority goal #4)
  • Provides $750,000 recurring to Rural Transportation Planning Organizations and Metropolitan Planning Organizations to fund a portion of the local match required for federal State Planning and Research Program funds
  • Provides $1.5 million in FY 2018 and $2 million in FY 2019 to incentivize regional consolidation of public transportation systems

Environment

  • Provides an additional $5 million over both years ($805,707 recurring) for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund (ENV-1)
  • Appropriates almost $3.3 million in total additional funds for the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund
  • Provides $15.6 million for the state’s match with federal and local funds for Water Resources Development Programs
  • Eliminates one position in each of the Department of Environmental Quality’s seven regional offices
  • Requires a study to evaluate the transfer of well inspection and permitting from the Department of Health & Human Services to DEQ
  • Directs a study of the state’s solid waste disposal tax

Agriculture

  • Budgets nearly $1 million for international marketing of North Carolina agricultural products (AG-1)
  • Appropriates $2 million to the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust  (AG-1)

Finance
The budget includes a number of tax and revenue related provisions. None appear to directly impact local government revenues, but do influence state level availability and economic development planning.

First, the legislation reduces the personal income tax rate from 5.499% to 5.25%, and increases the standard deduction for all filing statuses (married, head of household, etc.), effective January 1, 2019. It also converts the existing child tax credit to a deduction, and accelerates the reduction in corporate income taxes. Other business-friendly changes include modifications to the state franchise tax, elimination of the tax on most mill machinery, and creation of a new tax incentives for “transformative projects.” Finally, the legislation diverts the tax revenue from the short term lease or rental of motor vehicles from the General Fund to the Highway Fund. This is a transfer of approximately $10.0 million per year.

Miscellaneous

  • Requires all non-state entities receiving funds in FY 2018 to report to the Office of State Budget and Management on the use of the funds
  • Directs a legislative study on local government enterprise systems, particularly water and sewer systems, and requires consultation with NCACC and others during the study
  • Allocates $4 million for eastern NC storm debris removal from the water resources development projects funds
  • Increases state aid to public libraries by $500,000 (T&F-3)
  • Authorizes the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to use up to $250,000 for litigation regarding the federal Waters of the US rule
  • Allocates $1 million to carry out the government transparency initiative directed by the 2015 budget act
  • Provides $100 million for activities directed by the 2016 Disaster Recovery Act

A budget bill wining state General Assembly approval would fund projects large and small in Western North Carolina, from a new steam plant at Western Carolina University to construction of a guardrail at Clay Middle School in Hayesville.

Montreat College would get $2 million to go toward development of a cybersecurity program in Black Mountain and the state Department of Transportation is directed to put up a specific highway sign for a historic house in McDowell County.

Some WNC appropriations were made because of state agency requests and some resulted from legislator requests. A co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, has said some legislators were given the ability to channel money to recipients of their choosing.

Most of the legislative work of drafting the budget was done behind closed doors this year, making it difficult to determine which legislator requested which appropriation.

Some Democratic legislators say the budget contains pork barrel spending designed to help Republican legislators win re-election. Republicans, who were in charge of the budget process, say the budget funds a number of worthy programs.

More: NC legislature completes budget, sends to Gov. Cooper

““We can do so much more to raise teacher pay, improve school safety and protect drinking water but legislative Republicans thought it was more important to protect their tax breaks for corporations and people making over $200,000 a year. Governor Cooper’s budget proposed tax fairness for teacher pay along with forward thinking investments while saving responsibly,” said Governor Cooper.

Gov. Roy Cooper has yet to say whether he will sign the bill or veto it, but it passed the legislature last week by margins wide enough to override a veto.

Here is a partial list of projects in the bill with a particular WNC impact:

–Replace the steam plant at Western Carolina University, $16.5 million.

–Additional funds for UNC School of Medicine programs operated with Asheville-based Mountain Health Education Center, $4.8 million.

–State mapping of areas vulnerable to landslides, $3.6 million.

WNC Farmers Market, wholesale building, $3 million.

–Renovate Owen and Carmichael halls at UNC Asheville, $2.8 million.

— Develop a cybersecurity regional training center in Black Mountain for government and private sector employees in partnership with Montreat College, $2 million.

–To Polk County for the World Equestrian Games to be held there in September, $1 million.

–For equipment and operational needs at the Anspach Advanced Manufacturing School at Mayland Community College’s Yancey County campus, $513,800.

— To Southwestern North Carolina Resource Conservation & Development Council for stream restoration and to improve farming practices to reduce pollution in part of the Jonathans Creek watershed in Haywood County, $500,000.

–To expand a state pilot program that pays $4,600 in tuition costs for up to five teacher assistants studying to become teachers. The expansion covers 19 counties, including nine in WNC: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, McDowell, Mitchell, Swain and Yancey. $448,315.

–To Muddy Sneakers, a Brevard-based nonprofit that uses outdoor experiences to educate fifth-graders, $400,000.

–To the city of Marion for demolition, cleanup and stabilization of the Drexel industrial site, $300,000.

–To Yancey County, for installation of lights at Cane River Park, $300,000.

–To what the budget bill calls “Mountain Area Pregnancy Center.” It appears the money would go to Mountain Area Pregnancy Services, a Christian-based nonprofit based in Asheville that offers help to pregnant women and seeks to discourage abortion, $250,000.

–To KidSenses in Rutherfordton for a science, technology, engineering and mathematics center in its interactive children’s museum, $250,000.

–A grant for Henderson County Public Schools to expand the “Lead in Me” program, $200,000.

–To Tri-County Early College in Cherokee County for creation of an innovation lab. $200,000.

–To the N.C. Forest Service, a state agency, for hemlock restoration initiatives, $200,000.

–To Crossnore School and Home for Children, which has locations in Avery County, Hendersonville and Winston-Salem, for unspecified purposes, $150,000.

–A grant to Transylvania County Schools to buy bleeding control kits for 250 classrooms and provide training, $126,950.

–To Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department for unspecified purposes, $100,000.

–For renovations and improvements at Avery County High School, $100,000.

–For a pilot program at Asheville-based Pisgah Legal Services to give legal assistance to veterans, $100,000.

–To the state’s Western Justice Academy in Edneyville to fund a second firearms instructor, $95,435.

–To the Macon County Sheriff’s Department for in-car cameras, $65,000.

–To Sylva-based Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission to help match federal grants, $60,000.

–To the state Department of Agriculture for a storage building at its Mountain Research Center in Waynesville, $50,000.

–To Transylvania County for its Early Childhood Initiative to improve early learning, $50,000.

–For a driveway at Swain County High School, $35,000.

–To Graham County for an economic development project, $25,000.

–To Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce for a workforce development program, $25,000.

–To Asheville-based environmental organization MountainTrue, to study whirling disease in trout, $20,000.

–To Clay County Schools for construction of a guardrail at Clay County Middle School, $15,000.

–To Jackson County to install security cameras on a jogging trail, $15,000.

–To Haywood County, for emergency management, $15,000.

–To Jackson County, for emergency management, $15,000.

–To Haywood County for heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment at Pigeon Community Center, $15,000.

–To the Bryson City Police Department for a K-9 transportation unit, $15,000.

–To the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department to fight opioid abuse, $10,000.

–To the Swain County Sheriff’s Department to fight opioid abuse, $10,000.

–The budget bill establishes an office of public defender to represent people who cannot afford a lawyer in criminal cases in McDowell and Rutherford County. It does not say how much that will cost.publi defender

–The bill requires the state Department of Transportation to set up a logo sign advertising the Historic Carson House on U.S. 221 south of its intersection with U.S. 70 in McDowell County. It contains no money to carry out the request and says the nonprofit operating the house will pay “applicable fees.”

The legislature has the votes to override the governor’s veto.