Governor's Budget Proposes Funding For Area Education Projects, Attractions

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Apr 8, 2021
Funding for local educational institutions and area attractions is in Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposed North Carolina state budget.

The budget, a proposed outline for the FY 2021-2023 biennium, has a total recommended budget of $27.3 billion for the 2021-22 fiscal year and nearly $28.7 billion in FY 2022-23, according to the spending plan released last month.

North Carolina has not passed a full new budget in recent years as budget battles caused the previous budget to roll over in 2019, with only some smaller budget bills passing.

Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover) said his priorities for this year’s state budget are "trying to get funding that was included in last year's budget that was vetoed by the governor and therefore was not done, such as state search and rescue, which includes Wilmington Fire Department."

Davis and Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) spoke about the priority to get budget items out with the passing of a budget this year during Wednesday’s BizTalk.

Other priorities include funding for expansion of Fort Fisher State Historic Site and Southeast Area Technical High School and a Wilmington area project to treat opioid addiction, Davis said. He is also seeking an appropriation for the local food bank.

“Our local food bank wants to expand its facility and I’m looking at getting funding to help them do that,” Davis said.

The governor's budget proposes investing $4.6 billion through bonds for the construction and renovation of public schools, community college and university campuses, state museums, parks and other attractions.

That includes $2.5 billion for public schools to address over $8 billion in documented needs; $783 million for the UNC System, including $295 million for health and safety projects; and $500 million for the Community College System.

The governor’s proposed budget includes several items for the University of North Carolina Wilmington, which is expected to receive funding for some capital projects.

UNCW’s Randall Library is marked for general obligation bonds, “subject to a vote of the people, to fund the renovation and expansion of the Randall Library,” stated the budget, which proposes $56 million in funding.

For another major project, the university is marked for nearly $10 million for a coastal marine studies building renovation.

In addition, the budget proposes $485 million for teacher and administrator compensation, “increasing average pay for existing teachers by 10%, reducing plateaus for veteran teachers, and restoring Master’s Pay,” stated the proposal.

It also allocates $19 million to build out the regional support model to support local school systems.

For business and industry, the proposal includes $45.4 million “over the biennium, including support for One NC Small Business Fund and Carolina Small Business Fund,” stated the proposal. These programs have helped support businesses in the Wilmington region in the past, most recently this year with grant awards for two local businesses.

The budget also addresses funding for issues related to Per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the Cape Fear Region with more than $622,500 for four jobs that “support the collection and analysis of biospecimens in 1,000 adults and 300 children from the Cape Fear Region, and provide test results and health education,” stated the proposal.

Some of the area’s biggest attractions are also lined for funding through the governor’s proposed spending plan. Money is earmarked for an expansion at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher for $20 million and $8 million for the Fort Fisher State Historic Site Visitor Center.

Battleship North Carolina has allocations in the plan with $2.3 million to manage recurrent flooding of the Battleship Park property and entrance road, as well as $1 million for mast repairs.

In Brunswick County, the Brunswick Town State Historic Site is lined for $3 million for shoreline stabilization.
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