UNCG passes truly non-partisan resolution on state budget

On Wednesday UNC-Greensboro’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution urging lawmakers to pass a state budget.

UNCG’s board was careful not to take a side in the partisan political standoff between Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and the Republican majority in the General Assembly. That’s a sharp contrast with the UNC Board of Governors — and many of the UNC system schools that have followed suit with their own resolutions.

As reported by John Newsom of Greensboro’s News & Record newspaper, university leaders thought it would be inappropriate to favor one budget plan over another in the months’ long budget stalemate.

From that story:

Unlike the Board of Governors’ resolution that called for passage of two specific bills backed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, UNCG’s measure was less specific and intentionally non-partisan. It’s not the job of university trustees or officials to take political sides, Chancellor Frank Gilliam said at Wednesday’s meeting.

“An argument I would make is that by supporting a specific piece of legislation that seeks to favor one party over the other is not where we want to be, …” Gilliam said. “If the Ds and Rs were reversed, I would take the same position.”

Trustee Ward Russell was the lone vote against the UNCG resolution. He said he supports the intent of the document but said the UNCG board would be making a stronger statement if it urged passage of the two specific stalled bills.

As Policy Watch reported this week, trustees at many of the nine schools that have so far passed resolutions say they have felt pressure to support the budget favored by Republican lawmakers. The General Assembly’s GOP majority appoints the UNC Board of Governors, which in conjuncture with the legislature appoints the members of boards of trustees at UNC system schools.

At its January meeting the UNC Board of Governors unanimously passed a resolution urging state lawmakers to pass the currently proposed state budget, which would require a veto override.

UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam.

The Board of Governors also directed the individual boards of trustees at UNC schools across the state to follow suit.

“Further, we call on all boards of trustees to create and approve a concurring resolution as soon as practical,” the board wrote in its resolution.

Republicans don’t have the votes to override Cooper’s veto, but board of governors members have said they hope the school resolutions will encourage Democrats to join with GOP lawmakers, making that possible.

UNCG’s resolution could be a template for some of the system schools this month, as the boards of trustees that have not yet passed their own resolutions hold meetings at which they are expected to do so.

“I think it was the right thing to do and the smart thing to do,” a trustee from NC A&T told Policy Watch Wednesday. “I think other boards are going to take that example.”

That board member asked not to be identified as some trustees fear failing to embrace the Republican budget could lead to the legislature deciding not to reappoint them to their boards.

NC A&T’s own board will meet Friday and is expected to take up the issue then.

UNC Board of Governors member Marty Kotis, who is from Greensboro, said his board’s resolution favors the Republican budget for its merits — not because of politics.

“This is one of the best budget we’ve seen, if not the best budget we’ve seen,” Kotis told Policy Watch this week.

Medicaid expansion — a major sticking point of the budget, along with teacher pay — is an important conversation, Kotis said. But it would require major changes in budget priorities that would be unlikely to be as advantageous to the university system, he said.

“If they do have the Medicaid expansion, do they think they’re going to have the same university budgets?” Kotis siad. “They’re not. It’s one or the other.”

“It may be hard to believe,” Kotis said. “But Democrats can be wrong about something every now and then.”

 

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