Thank you for your interest to learn of those accomplishments of the General Assembly during the 2018 short session. Although the length of the session was just seven weeks, we were successful to pass several important pieces of legislation that will go further to help grow our economy, provide job opportunities for our citizen, improve upon our education systems, save the hard-earned dollars of our tax payers, and help keep our citizens safe.
Perhaps the most significant achievement of the 2018 session can be illustrated in the budget that we enacted this session. This budget demonstrates those policies that I find are essential to my district, and to North Carolinians. Our governor proposed a tax increase, and to spend $600 million more than our state would have collected in revenues. Instead, through the override of the governor’s veto, we funded our state government with a fiscally responsible budget.
As a result of our pro-growth economic policies, North Carolina has its fourth consecutive revenue surplus this year, enabling lawmakers to make targeted adjustments to the biennial budget passed last year to address critical needs and fund key priorities.
Those adjustments bring the total budget to $23.917 billion – a nearly four percent increase over last year’s plan – and keep lawmakers’ commitment to deliver a fifth consecutive teacher pay raise while providing additional tax relief to hardworking families and job-creating businesses.
Along with investing close to $700 million additional dollars in public education, the budget provides an average 6.5 percent pay raise for teachers and a 6.9 percent increase to the principal salary schedule. It includes new initiatives to help keep students safe in North Carolina classrooms and sets aside $241 million in lottery funding to build or upgrade school facilities.
In addition to providing a $1.5 billion tax cut that will result in 99 percent of taxpayers either paying less or paying no state personal income taxes at all, the budget sets aside an additional $60 million to help victims of Hurricane Matthew rebuild. It adds $161 million to the state’s rainy day fund, which lawmakers have built to a historic high of $2 billion to ensure North Carolina is well-prepared for the next natural disaster or economic downturn. It also directs more than $200 million toward compensation increases to state employees, including a two percent permanent pay raise for most state workers and larger increases for State Highway Patrol troopers and correctional officers. And it ensures the minimum salary for all permanent, full-time state employees will be at least $31,200.
Finally, it includes provisions to ensure access to clean water for North Carolinians affected by GenX pollution, along with key changes to economic development programs that are expected to secure thousands of new jobs and billions in new investment to the state.
To help us address the physician and surgeon shortage in NC, the budget includes an additional $4.8 million for the Western Medical School at MAHEC.
Henderson County Public Schools will receive a grant of $200,000 to expand the Steve Covey Leader in Me program that has been wildly successful in the schools that are currently participating.
To address a funding shortage created because of a change in federal funding, the Henderson County Literacy Council received a grant.
Muddy Sneakers outdoor education program receives an additional $400,000 grant.
Pisgah Legal Services receives $100,000 to help address issues for Henderson County veterans.
Our Justice Academy will get a second firearms instructor.
Montreat College will get $2mm to begin planning for a one of a kind Cybersecurity Regional Training Center right here in WNC.
Western North Carolina University will receive $16.5 million to begin to replace the steam power plant that was built in the 1920’s.
UNC-Asheville will receive $2,770,000 to complete the renovation and furnishing of two 1960 era buildings.
The Clean Water Management Trust, Parks, and Recreation Fund, and Farmland Preservation funds receive additional funding to help preserve and protect our environmental resources.
Provides performance bonuses for principals whose students achieve the most academic growth. Under the agreement, principals could earn bonuses of up to $20,000 on top of their base salaries.
Includes more than $28 million to provide a 2 percent pay raise to other school employees.
Offers a 2 percent permanent salary increase for most state employees and a one-time cost-of-living supplement for retirees.
Raises the minimum salary for all permanent, full-time state employees to at least $31,200.
Funds a new pay plan for State Highway Patrol troopers that will raise starting pay to $44,000 and provide troopers a roughly eight percent average pay raise. The new plan will also accelerate the timeframe for a trooper to get to top pay to six years.
Includes roughly $22 million to provide correctional officers working in state prisons a four percent salary increase. The budget also expand the covered population for the line of duty death benefit, and double the benefit’s value from $50,000 to $100,000, ensuring all families of the victims from recent prison attacks receive that benefit.
Allocates $20 million for pay raises for public university employees and $24 million for community college employees.