While the stalemate over North Carolina's budget seems to have no end in sight, individual pieces of the spending plan continue to move through the General Assembly.
Bills that push forward juvenile justice reform, rural technology and fund the Department of Transportation are on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk Thursday.
Passing just pieces of the state budget at a time has released billions of dollars from the state’s general fund that previously were trapped because of Cooper’s budget veto in late June. Now more than 100 days later, the $24 billion spending bill remains in limbo pending a Senate override. The House successfully approved a veto override last month, but did so in controversial fashion, with few Democrats on the floor when the vote was taken.
It will still be up to Cooper to unlock the piecemeal funds.
If House Bill 387 is signed by Cooper, then the expansion of North Carolina’s rural broadband grant program will continue. The bill allocates $150 million for a 10-year commitment to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology program.
The GREAT program promotes internet accessibility for the state’s rural communities by offering broadband companies incentives for updating service. With the new funds, the program can extend its reach to two other counties.
Rep. Dean Arp, R–Union, who pushed for the creation of the GREAT program, said the bill will benefit rural residents.
“Broadband is an essential utility for all North Carolinians in today’s global economy, and the GREAT program is successfully delivering on the General Assembly’s promise to encourage and assist providers in deploying internet connectivity at the highest possible speeds,” Arp said Tuesday.
Also awaiting Cooper’s signature is House Bill 100, which allocates millions of dollars to the Department of Transportation for the 2019-2021 biennium. It provides funding for highway maintenance, airport spending, employee salaries and more.
Also, House Bill 1001 releases $77 million to hire more district attorneys, judges and staff to support a new juvenile justice law that goes in effect on Dec.1.
The “Raise the Age” law changes the age that children can be tried as adults. Sixteen – and 17-year-olds who commit nonviolent crimes will no longer be charged as adults unless the crime involves a motor vehicle.
Senate Bill 61 did not make it to the governor’s desk this week, but it should by next week, once it is approved by the Senate.
The bill allocates more than $2 billion to the North Carolina Community College System.
North Carolina has the third-largest community college system in the nation, according to the system’s website. The bill will help fund the operations of 58 colleges.
“These campuses keep our workforce prepared for the cutting-edge jobs of tomorrow. This budget maintains our strong commitment to increased funding, capital projects, and innovative programs that will continue to build on their powerful success story,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a statement.