Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
A bipartisan supermajority in the North Carolina Senate passed a budget proposal that calls for income taxes in the state to be decreased, as well as provide 3 percent pay raises and $1,500 bonuses for teachers over the next two years.
Four Democrats voted with Republican Senators creating the supermajority which resulted in enough votes to override a potential veto by Gov. Cooper if this were the final budget, according to Sen. Bob Steinburg.
The Senate gave final approval to its budget proposal Friday morning in a 32-18 vote. The vote was required but largely perfunctory after Thursday afternoon’s debate and vote on the same bill, which passed with four Democrats voting in favor of the Republican-authored budget.
“I think it is safe to say that this budget includes the largest allocation for funding for Western North Carolina in the state’s history,” Sen. Kevin Corbin who represents Senate District 50 said on Friday. “We were able to get in a lot of desperately needed funding for nearly every county in my district.”
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) said, “Sen. Corbin was instrumental in getting critical infrastructure and other projects approved for his district.”
Senate Budget Highlights for WNC
– $460,000 for the innovative court pilot program
– $1,500,000 for a sports field renovation at Bethel Middle School
– $250,000 for repairs to the Little Tennessee Greenway in Macon County
– $23,416,952 in funding for the Center for Advancement for Teaching
– $250,000 for the construction of public restrooms in the town of Sylva
– $2,000,000 in capital requests for the Clay County 911 call center
– $8,700,000 in funding for the Education Center for Workforce Solutions at Tri-County Community College
– $750,000 for equipment for the workforce programs at Tri-County Community College.
– $750,000 for truck driving training equipment at Tri-County Community College.
– $500,000 for dental assisting equipment at Tri-County Community College
– $10,000,000 for the construction of a new Center for Cultural and Historical Engagement at Tri-County Community College
– $5,000,000 for the Workforce Industrial Training Center at Haywood Community College
– $200,000 for lighting and parking lot improvements at the Haywood County Event Center
– $500,000 for new station servers for Cherokee County EMS
– $1,200,000 for funding to the Main Station at Cherokee County EMS
– $1,000,000 to upgrades and expansion of water/sewer system for Clay County
– $500,000 for a water pumping station for the Town of Clyde
– $175,000 for the water and sewer system for the town of Franklin
Corbin has also requested approval to add two judge positions for western North Carolina’s 30th District as well as two additional Assistant District Attorney positions to cover WNC. Senator Corbin was also able to get a $10,000 allocation for every volunteer fire department within Senate District 50.
“I am working diligently to bring as many needed resources as possible back to far Western North Carolina,” said Sen. Corbin. “So far, we have been successful at getting our fair share and maybe a bit more. The budget process is still moving and will not conclude for another four or five weeks. During that time we are still looking to amend the budget to include other needed funds and services for Western North Carolina.”
Budget Highlights for the State
The total proposed General Fund allocation is $25.7 billion in 2021-22 and $26.6 billion in 2022-23.
The total allocation of State Fiscal Recovery funds is $5.1 billion across the biennium.
The total State Capital Infrastructure Fund allocation is $4.3 billion over two years. It replenishes the state’s reserves, including the Rainy Day Fund.
The budget would provide 3 percent raises over two years to most state employees, including teachers, UNC System employees, and community college employees. Federal funds will be used to give bonuses of up to $1,500 to all state employees.
The proposal would set in motion a $12 billion investment in capital projects and infrastructure over the next 10 years, a release from Senator Phil Berger’s office said.
For now, the $25.7 billion spending plan moves to the House for more debate, and at least some changes are assured.
The House and the Senate will be in session next week, then take a week off, starting with the July 4 holiday.
“It’s not over until the Governor signs the budget and we will keep working until then to represent the folks on this end of the state,” said Corbin.