Early this morning, the North Carolina House of Representatives passed its biennium Budget, House Bill-97: The 2015 Appropriations Act, with overwhelming bipartisan support by a vote of 93-23. The budget covers all funding for fiscal years 2015-2016 and fiscal years 2016-2017.
“Prudent, responsible budgeting has already allowed North Carolina to expect a $400 million dollar surplus and pay off our recession debt; because of that success, today’s House Budget will allow us to further invest in critical State infrastructure and services,” commented House Speaker Tim Moore. “We are affirming our commitment to our children’s future by expanding access to digital resources, textbooks, personalized learning time, and quality teachers; award much-needed raises to teachers, highway patrol, correctional officers, and other State employees; and sow economic growth across our great State. We are a dynamic and growing state, this House Budget will effectively serve the people of North Carolina.”
“The House has crafted a responsible budget that addresses our most critical needs and ensures North Carolina will continue on the path to prosperity,” stated Representative Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “This plan provides our citizens extended access to quality education, better healthcare, safer roads and communities, a modern legal system; and good paying jobs – while also eliminating waste and inefficiencies.”
“This is a good, conservative budget,” said House Majority Leader Mike Hager (R-Rutherford). “This truly evolved into a better package each time that we met as a Caucus.”
Total Budget Spending:
FY 2015-2016: $22,155,356,865
FY 2016-2017: $22,406,478,588
Highlights of the House Budget include:
Salary & Benefits
- Salary Increase for Teachers and State Employees – Provides $361 million in FY 2015-2016 and $373 million in FY 2016-2017 for compensation increases. $169.4 million is specially allotted to teacher pay raises.
- Across-the-Board Teacher Raises – Provides an average 4% pay increase for all teachers. At least a 2% increase in the salary of each tier of the teacher salary schedule, and increases starting teacher (tier 1) salary from $33,000/yr to $35,000/year – a 6% increase.
- State Employees – Provides for a 2% increase for most State Employees. UNC and Community College System granted flexibility in awarding raises.
- Correctional Officers – Provides funds to implement Pay by Custody Level for correctional officers.
- State Highway Patrol and Forensic Scientists – Provides funds for market-based pay adjustments.
- Cost of Living Adjustment for Retirees – Provides for a 2% increase across the board.
Rainy Day Funds
- Savings Reserve – $200 million added in FY 2015-2016. Total savings reserve will now equal $851 million.
- Repairs and Renovations Reserve - $200 million allocated in FY 2015-2016 for unforeseen repairs and renovations.
- State Emergency Response - $20 million added in FY 2015-2016 for emergencies and natural disasters.
- Fully Funds K-12 Enrollment Growth - Provides $100 million in FY 2015-16 and $207 million in FY 2016-17.
- Continues Support for Teacher Assistant Program – Provides an additional $88.8 million annually in recurring funds.
- Enhanced Textbook Funding – provides $48.3 million in FY 2015-2016 and $43.5 million in each year of the biennium for textbooks and digital resources in classrooms. Total Textbook and Digital Resources funding would now equal $91.8 million.
- Opportunity Scholarships – Provides additional support for the program that offers scholarships for eligible K-12 students to attend nonpublic schools by adding $6.8 million in FY 2015-2016.
- Targeted Teacher Bonuses – Provides $9.4 million over the biennium to establish performance bonuses for teachers in Career-Tech and Advanced Placement / International Baccalaureate when students successfully complete an AP exam or industry certification.
- Access to Computer Software at No Cost to Students or Teachers – Provides $2.6 million in recurring funds to give access to industry-recognized productivity software to every student and staff member of NC public schools at no cost.
Supports Four Major Public School Initiatives:
- Digital Learning Plan & School Connectivity Initiative – Provides $42 million total over the biennium. Provides $12 million to enhance wireless capacity at the classroom level and access over $60 million in matching Federal e-Rate funds over the biennium. Also provides $9 million for professional development in the effective use of educational technology and the creation of regional consortia to support school districts in using and purchasing educational technology.
- Elevating Educators Act – Supports a new initiative to supplement teacher compensation and redesign the roles and responsibilities of education personnel by providing $200,000 in FY 2015-2016 and $10 million in FY 2016-2017.
- Teacher Recruitment and Retention – Provides $3.2 million over the biennium to establish a new teacher loan scholarship program to recruit teachers for placement in hard-to-staff schools or subjects
- Principal Preparation – Provides $10 million over the biennium to create a competitive grant program for principal development.
North Carolina Community College System
- Fully Funds Enrollment
- Summer Enrollment – allows Community College System to include curriculum courses taught year-round with $16.9 million in additional funding in FY 2016-2017.
- Increases Tuition – beginning in second year of the biennium, by $4.00 per credit hour, from $72.00 to $76.00 for residents and $264 to $268 for nonresidents, to provide additional funds for reinvestment in local Community Colleges.
- Veteran’s Tuition – provides $2 million recurring funds, and makes necessary statutory changes regarding in-state tuition for eligible non-resident veterans.
- Modernizes Information Technology – provides $2.5 M in FY 2015-2016 and $5 M in FY 2016-2017 to modernize the IT system in our Community Colleges.
University of North Carolina
- Fully Funds Enrollment Growth - provides $49.3 million in FY 2015-16 and $80.2 million in FY 2016-17.
- Veteran’s Tuition – provides $9.3 million recurring funds, and makes necessary statutory changes regarding in-state tuition for eligible non-resident veterans.
- East Carolina University’s Medical School - Increased support for the Brody School of Medicine by providing $8 million recurring funds.
Justice & Public Safety
- Body Cameras – Bipartisan-sponsored Amendment 41 provides $5 million over the biennium to fund body-worn video cameras for law enforcement officers.
- HERO Grants – Provides $2 million over the biennium to fund the Governor’s Crime Commission and equipment for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. HERO Grants provide training to disabled veterans to help combat the exploitation of children.
- Modernize Court System – Increases the yearly budget for operations, interpreters, expert witnesses and juries in the State court system, and invests in up-to-date court technology: approximately $19 million. Including IT projects related to e-Courts: e-filing, citation processing, and e-compliance.
- Training for Law Enforcement and Adult Corrections – Provides $6.2 million to fund training facilities and appropriate use-of-force training programs for all law enforcement agencies and adult corrections.
- Addresses Mental Health Needs in the State Prison System – Funds 72 additional mental health unit beds at Central Prison and establishes mental health behavior treatment units at eight close custody facilities: $8.86 million.
- Vehicles for State Highway Patrol and the State Bureau of Investigation – Provides $9 million recurring each year of the biennium.
- Cameras for State Highway Patrol Vehicles – Provides $8.2 million over the biennium to install dashboard cameras in every SHP vehicle.
- Historic Preservation Tax Credit – Provides $8 million in recurring funds to support the historic revitalization of our local communities.
- Business Development Grants – Budgets more than $20 million over the biennium for both Rural Economic Development Division Grant and Main Street Solutions Fund.
- Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund – Provides $8.5 million in FY 2016-2017 recurring funding to grow existing business through Job Maintenance and Capital Development Fund.
- Tourism Advertising – Increases funding on a recurring basis by $1 million FY 2015-2016 and $2 million FY 2016-2017, for research-based advertising to drive the tourism industry in North Carolina.
- One NC Small Business Fund – Provides $5 million in nonrecurring funds in each year of the biennium to offer early-stage technology development grants for small businesses that receive federal awards from the Small Business Innovative Research program or Small Business Technology Transfer program.
- NC Biotechnology Center – Provides Center with an additional $5 million in recurring funding; total funding is $13.6 million.
- The Support Center – Fosters economic development in underserved communities. Provides $2.5 million in nonrecurring funding for each year of the biennium.
- Film and Entertainment Grant Fund – Provides $40 million in FY 2015-2016 to encourage the production of motion pictures, television shows, and commercials and to develop the filmmaking industry within the State.
- NC Arboretum – Provides $858,000 for each year of the biennium to promote the natural pharmaceutical industry.
Healthcare & Human Services
- Responsibly Funds Medicaid Enrollment and Utilization Growth – Provides $747 million in funds.
- Critical Mental Health Services – Increases State funds to provide $43.8 million over the biennium for continued investment in community mental health programs.
- Reaffirms Commitment to Modernize the Medical Examiner System – Provides $2.8 million over the biennium for upgrades including to the electronic death records system, and replacing obsolete equipment.
- Pre-K – Reaffirms commitment to Pre-K funding and availability, and the child care subsidy.
- Foster Care – Increases funding for foster care to support the growth in caseload with $12 million over the biennium. Also provides funds to support the transition of children aging out of foster care (ages 17-21) with $3 million over the biennium. Provides $725,000 in FY 2015-2016 for Child Advocacy Centers.
- Targeted Grant Programs for Local Health Departments and Non-Profits – Provides $23.3 million in State funds to take the first step in focusing funds and programs that improve health outcomes for vulnerable infants and toddlers.
Invests in Services that Benefits the Aging
- Expands Hospice Care – Provides $20 million in FY 2015-2016 to increase capacity in hospice residential care facilities.
- Home and Community Care Block Grant – Restores prior cuts to services to the aging.
- Creates a Department of Military and Veterans Affairs – Provides $15.2 million over the biennium to create and fund a Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to streamline efforts and offer better quality services to our nation’s heroes.
- NC Museum of Art – Provides additional funds of $130,000.
- Libraries – Provides $10 million in funds.
- Queen Anne’s Revenge - Provides funding for continuing excavation so that the project may be completed within a couple of years; additional funding of $1.5 million in FY 2015-2016.
- North Carolina Symphony – Fully funds the Challenge Grant for $4 million over biennium. Symphony must demonstrate to the Office of State Budget and Management that it raises $9 million each year to receive the non-recurring grant.
- Workforce Housing Loan Program – Provides $58 million over the biennium to assist with the development of working family housing across the State.
Construction & Maintenance
- NC State Plant Sciences Building: Provides planning funds of $5 million.
- NC State Engineering Building: Provides planning funds of $11.9 million.
- Western School of Science and Math: Provides advance planning funds of $1.6 million.
- Roof Replacements – Dorton Arena at State Fairgrounds ($2.3 million) and General Assembly ($4 million).
- USS North Carolina – Provides $3 million matching funds to complete the cofferdam construction and hull repair.
- Water Resources Development Projects – Provides the required State match of $5 million.
- Armory Projects – Provides State match of $5.7 million over biennium.
Authorizes Two-Thirds Bonds for the following projects:
- Highway Patrol Training Academy: $30.7 million
- New Medical Examiner Facility in Winston-Salem: $12.9 million
- NC State Engineering Building: $65.1 million
- UNC-Charlotte New Science Building: $90 million
- Appalachian State University Health Sciences Building: $70.7 million
- Modernization of DMV Services – Provides $30.6 million over the biennium for the continued modernization of DMV technology, including Phase III of the State Automated Driver License System (SADLS) replacement effort, improving the customer experience.
- Ferries and Rural Transportation – Provides $2.1 recurring funds for the Hatteras Alternative Route, and $3 million recurring funds for the Statewide Rural Capital Grant Program which offer critical public transportation options for thousands of North Carolinians.
- Highway Trust Fund – Sets aside $50 million in FY 2016-2017 for reserve to pay for debt service associated with passage of the transportation bond.
New revenues are directed to contract
resurfacing (80%) and to ports modernization (20%):
- $163 million over the biennium in additional funding is appropriated for contract resurfacing, enabling an additional 2,191 lane miles to be resurfaced.
- $40.8 million over biennium is provided to modernize the Ports of Wilmington and Morehead City. Target projects include enhancements to road, rail, and navigation channel connections.
Agriculture and Natural Resources
- Farmland Preservation Trust Fund – Recognizes the importance of Agriculture Industry by protecting future generations of working family farmland. Provides $2.78 million over the biennium.
- Spay and Neuter Program – Increases annual funding to the Spay and Neuter Program by $250,000 recurring funds.
- Water Infrastructure – Provides an additional $23.8 million over the biennium for State water and wastewater infrastructure grants and loans benefitting rural, economically distressed areas.
- Clean Water Management Trust Fund – Provides $16.7 million over the biennium for clean water grant projects, which includes $4 million for military buffers.
- Oyster Initiatives – Provides new funding for 3 oyster initiatives: clutch planting, oyster sanctuaries, and oyster research to develop NC oyster brood stock to provide seed for aquaculture.
- Noncommercial UST Cleanup – Provides $2.3 million to eliminate the backlog of claims by property owners and famers against the Noncommercial Leaking Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Fund.
- Dredging – Provides additional support the Shallow Draft Dredging Fund, $1 million increase funding over biennium. Increases relief funding for Oregon Inlet.