Often overlooked amidst the hubbub over big ticket budget items, the General Government section of the joint budget catches a range of items from one-off technology purchases to the operation of many of the state’s administrative functions. While a more complete list is provided below, a few items deserve to be highlighted.
First, the North Carolina Senate will give themselves more operating funds, without a similar bump for the House. There may be perfectly legitimate reasons that the NC Senate needs more funds to do its work, but it is curious to see the chamber that generally takes a harder line on reducing government spending going in the other direction when it comes to its own operations.
Second, increased funding was made available to manage ConnectNC Bond Act projects. While bond proceeds will pay for primary construction activities, budget writers still needed to increase the state’s capacity to oversee the process. As many observers have noted, the ConnectNC Bond act will accelerate the building of new state infrastructure, but it will also require General Fund appropriations to maintain and use the new facilities that will be built.
Third, the legislature wants even more study on how to lease or sell “underused” state properties. The budget includes $600,000 to study which properties are good candidates to be leased or sold, even though this topic has been the subject of substantial review over the last several years. There likely are some state properties that could be sold or leased, but it’s unlikely that the scope of the unknowns in this arena justify more than half a million dollars’ worth of new study. Let’s hope the analysis correctly identifies enough truly dispensable state assets to at least cover the cost of the study.
Fourth, additional funds were made available to invest in low-income housing. Here budget writers seem to recognize that the need for affordable housing in North Carolina far outstrips the supply, so it is heartening to see additional resources directed to this area of need. Read more