Governor McCrory’s proposed budget for Natural and Economic Resources (NER) devotes additional funds for some critical needs. If the legislature acts on his recommendations, it would mean more support for apprenticeship programs, main street revitalization in rural North Carolina, removing underground gas storage tanks, and handful of other laudable goals.
That said, Governor McCrory’s budget is trapped into modest aspirations. Having gone along with several rounds of expensive tax cuts, and being preoccupied this year with increasing teacher pay, there’s not much left over for anything else. Some good ideas are included in the Governor’s NER budget, but it isn’t a visionary plan for North Carolina’s economic, cultural, and natural future.
Selected line items from Governor McCrory’s proposed NER are listed below:
Department of Commerce
- Expand NCWorks Apprenticeship Program: $500,000 recurring increase to help businesses find and train employees. Brings total recommended FY 2016-17 appropriation to $1.35 million
- Revitalize small town main streets: $1 million in non-recurring funds, in addition to $2 million appropriated in the current budget (FY 2015-16)
- Implement Governor’s Food Manufacturing Task Force recommendations: $156,000 in recurring increase. Part of funds will support a position at the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership for “outreach” activities.
- Promote tourism: $3 million increase for advertising and other tourism promotion efforts through the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership. Brings total recommended FY 2016-17 appropriation to $13.9 million, up from $6 million in FY 2012-13
Department of Environmental Quality
- Legal fees: $5 million in non-recurring funds to cover anticipated legal costs associated with enforcement.
- Underground gas storage tanks: Restores $20. 6 million in Highway Funds for this program, which was subject to a continuation review. $15.4 million in recurring and $5.2 million in non-recurring.
- Air Quality and Water Account Funding: Restores $7.3 million in recurring Highway Fund resources, which was subject to continuation review
Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
- In addition to state employee bonus and retirement contribution increase, variety of small recurring increases for promoting state attractions, conducting archeological research, improving IT, and protecting cultural sites. Total adjustments amount to $2.0 million in new recurring appropriation and $2.1 million in non-recurring funds.
Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services
- Implement Governor’s Food Manufacturing Task Force Recommendations: $176,000 recurring and $1 non-recurring increase. Recurring funds support a position at NCSU to provide technical, regulatory, and policy support for new and existing food manufacturers. Non-recurring funds support marketing the food manufacturing sector.
- Protect Farmland: Increase recurring funding to the Farmland Preservation Trust Fund by $1 million, bringing total appropriation to $3.6 million
Department of Labor
- No recommended increase beyond state employee bonuses, retirement contribution increase, and IT expenditures.
Wildlife Resources Commission
- Only includes State employee bonus and increased retirement contribution