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