2018 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Governor’s Justice & Public Safety budget invests in safe and healthy communities

The Governor’s proposed Justice & Public Safety budget for fiscal year 2018 includes $161 million, a 6.2 percent increase, in additional state funding compared to the current fiscal year budget. The majority of the additional funds are for pay raises for state employees along with other targeted investments, particularly in the area of public safety.

Here are notable spending priorities in the Governor’s budget. Read more

2018 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Governor’s Budget Supports State Employees, Strengthens Military and Veteran Affairs, and Modernizes IT

Gov. Cooper has proposed additional funding that focuses on state employee salaries, securing and modernizing information technology (IT), and strengthening military and veteran affairs. Supporting good management practices in government is needed to ensure agencies carry out their missions effectively and efficiently for the benefit of all North Carolinians. In his first proposed budget released on Wednesday, the Governor aims to increase the General Government budget overall by 8.7 percent over the current 2017 fiscal year budget, or $38.6 million. Under this proposal General Government operations would make up 2 percent of the state’s entire general fund budget.

Here are four key points from the Governor’s proposed budget related to general government:

  1. All state employees would receive a raise and one-time bonus and those underpaid would be brought to minimum market rate. The Governor has made it a priority to reward state employees (not including teachers, who are receiving a different pay raise under the proposed education budget) with the “largest increase in almost a decade.” The Governor’s proposal provides $178 million to support an increase of 2 percent or $800 (whichever is greater), as well as a $500 one-time bonus ($79 million), for all state employees not on the teacher salary schedule. Furthermore, the Governor’s budget also includes $16 million to increase state agency employee salaries where employee pay is below the minimum of the market and for additional adjustments for salaries in the bottom quartile of market pay.

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2018 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Governor’s budget reflects high priority for the health of North Carolinians

 

Gov. Cooper presented a series of bold health initiatives in the budget proposal he released on Wednesday. In addition to Medicaid Expansion, it also would particularly improve access to care for North Carolinians with disabilities and mental health and substance abuse issues. The Governor proposed increasing the Health and Human Services budget overall by 6.5 percent, or $327 million, demonstrating that it is a top priority of the new Administration to protect the most vulnerable and help North Carolinians live healthy, productive lives.

Here are five key points from the Governor’s proposed budget related to health:

  1. Medicaid expansion is proposed and would cover over half a million additional individuals in need at minimal cost to the state’s general fund. According to the Governor’s proposed budget, expanding Medicaid eligibility would “cover 624,000 additional individuals and secure our share of federal resources that will inject over $4.4 billion in direct spending into our state. This expansion will create jobs, bolster our hospitals, save some rural hospitals from closing and stabilize private insurance markets.” By placing the state in a position to secure additional federal funding for Medicaid under existing laws to help North Carolina’s vulnerable populations, the Governor shows a continued commitment to join over 30 other states that have already done so. It should be noted that the Governor’s proposal does call for an additional $115 million over the next two years to cover changes to enrollment, utilization, costs, rates, and services associated with the Medicaid program.

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2018 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Governor’s budget proposal invests in higher education, workforce training

The Governor’s budget continues investments in the education pipeline beyond K-12 education so that North Carolinians have access to the training and education that prepares them for the workforce and participation in civic life.  The post-secondary budget comprises investments in the state’s Community College system and the UNC Public University system. Here are five things you should know about what Gov. Cooper proposes.

  1. The basics are covered by fully funding enrollment growth. The Community College system projects an increase in enrollment over the next fiscal year, the first since 2012, requiring $8.3 million in investment. The UNC system also projects two years of enrollment growth that is fully funded by the Governor’s proposal ($46.5 million and an additional $48.1 million respectively). Various efforts are funded to ensure that students in both systems are also in classrooms with adequately compensated faculty, including the UNC Faculty Retention Fund ($3 million) and salary increases for faculty.
  2. Post-secondary education is made more affordable through investments in need-based aid, scholarships and tuition is held steady. No additional increases in tuition at Community Colleges or the UNC system are proposed after years of increases. The Governor has also prioritized making post-secondary education more affordable through investments in the UNC Need Based Aid program (an additional $2 million); fully funding the NC Promise Tuition plan for UNC Pembroke, Western Carolina University and Elizabeth City State University ($11 million of lottery dollars in the second year of the biennium); and two new programs in the second year of the biennium: NC Grow ($19.4 million of lottery dollars) and the NC Best and Brightest ($5 million of lottery dollars) programs.  NC Grow would provide a “last-dollar” scholarship to all eligible graduates of a North Carolina high school to cover the cost of community college tuition and fees. NC Best and Brightest would establish a new forgivable loan program for high achieving students who pursue undergraduate education degrees and agree to teach in an NC Public school upon graduation.
  3. Workforce training is prioritized through evidence-based investments. The Governor proposes the first significant commitment of state dollars to workforce programs since the recovery began. The investments would use lottery dollars to fund continuing education courses at the same level as curriculum courses ($15 million in each year), provide financial assistance to those seeking industry credentials up to $1,000 per student ($2.5 million in the first year and an additional $2.5 million in the second), double the number of NCWorks career coaches in high schools ($1.1 million in the first year, $1.8 million in the second), provide start-up funding for new specialized workforce programs ($3 million in each year), and fund the support services that have been proven to increase completion rates at both Community Colleges and UNC.
  4. Research and broader connections of community colleges and universities to economic opportunity are funded. The Governor expands support for the translation of research and development into market opportunities ($2 million), supports University centers targeting fields of work like bio-pharmaceuticals and food processing that present growth opportunities and invests in health services and education that reach the surrounding communities.
  5. Measuring performance of post-secondary investments. The Governor also proposes investments that would allow taxpayers and policymakers to better understand the effect of a community college education on wages ($3 million in each year), would study the true costs of workforce programs to ensure they are fully covered in current funding allocations, and develop the information technology systems in the UNC system to monitor student success and institutional performance (one-time investment of $11.9 million in the first year, and a total of $11.5 million in second year).

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2018 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

Tip-toeing in the right direction: Gov. Cooper’s budget expands economic, cultural & environmental investments

Logo for Natural and Economic Resources BudgetGovernor Cooper’s first budget for Natural and Economic Resources makes a number of moves in the right direction, albeit mostly modest steps more than ambitious strides. After years of giving away big tax breaks to wealthy people and profitable corporations, there is no funding for truly bold initiatives. That said, several specific provisions in the Governor’s budget seek to fill some of the holes left by years of neglect and to extend some important economic development initiatives.

  1. Expanding broadband to under-served households. The Governor’s budget would set aside $20 million in the 2017-18 fiscal year for grants and planning to bring broadband connectivity to under-served communities. $14.5 million would create a grant program to support local governments, telephone cooperatives, and electrical cooperatives that are extending broadband connectivity to currently unserved communities. The remainder of the funds would support planning and implementation activities at the state level. This level of investment would come nowhere near addressing the lack of reliable and high-speed internet across much of North Carolina, but it could move us in the right direction.

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