In the state’s capitol, lawmakers have introduced House Bill 241 to bring additional funding to the UNC System, as well as to public schools across the state and even some community colleges.
The UNC System has requested $200 million for “various statewide renovations, repairs and new construction.” The bill does not specify how that funding will be divided across the UNC System. In January, UNC Charlotte Spokesperson Buffie Stephens addressed the proposal via an email to the Niner Times stating: “Every year the UNC System asks all campuses to submit capital project funding requests to them. The System compiles and makes the request to the General Assembly on behalf of all campuses. UNC Charlotte requested $45 million in funding for the Cameron and Burson buildings.”
On top of UNC Charlotte’s request to the North Carolina General Assembly, UNC Charlotte recently hosted various local lawmakers on campus. On Jan. 18, the Chancellor’s Office hosted members of the General Assembly for lunch and a tour of campus. The following month, UNC Charlotte hosted leaders from the North Carolina Senate on campus as well at an unannounced event in the Harris Alumni Center. In a press release, UNC Charlotte also confirmed that more than 30 legislators from the Charlotte region attended a recent dinner hosted by Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees in Raleigh, North Carolina. On March 13, UNC Charlotte hosted Governor Roy Cooper on campus for a tour of the Burson Building.
UNC Charlotte told the Niner Times that, “While in Raleigh, Dubois and Keeter met with Sen. Dan Bishop, Sen. Kathy Harrington, Sen. Todd Johnson, Rep. Becky Carney and Rep. Jason Saine to advocate for the University’s 2019 legislative priorities.”
UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois spoke about the meeting with state legislators in the press release: “It was very heartening to see the passion and excitement of our regional legislators for UNC Charlotte and I was greatly encouraged by their support of our priorities,” he said.
Stephens went on to add “UNC Charlotte continues to advocate for the University’s number one priority — the repairs and renovations to the Cameron and Burson buildings which are needed to keep pace with the growth of our students in the sciences and computer science fields. The University is appreciative that the Senate and House leadership as well as Governor Roy Cooper acknowledge the need for capital for repairs and renovations on the UNC campuses.”
House Bill 241 is officially titled the “Education Bond Act of 2019.” It includes $200 million in funding for the UNC System, $1.5 billion to the County School Systems across North Carolina, as well as $200 million for community colleges across North Carolina. The General Assembly is proposing that North Carolinians vote on this bond referendum in the 2020 Election Year.
The last time a bond referendum was used was in 2016 when North Carolina voters approved the “Connect NC Bond,” which appropriated $2 billion in funding. $90 million of this money was for UNC Charlotte’s new science building, which is currently under construction on UNC Charlotte’s main campus where the old Parking and Transportation Services building used to be.
The legislation was introduced February 28, 2019 and approved March 5. However, the bill still has to appear before various committees and is still in the initial stages.
On March 6, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proposed $500 million for the UNC System, more than double the initial request by the North Carolina General Assembly. Governor Cooper announced via Twitter, “If we set the right priorities, we can value our teachers, build schools for the future and expand Medicaid, all with no new taxes on North Carolina’s people.”
On top of the $500 million allocated to the UNC system, Governor Cooper’s proposal includes $500 million for community colleges and nearly $2 billion for North Carolina Public Schools.
The North Carolina General Assembly placed House Bill 241 on the calendar for March 13, 2019, however; after the public proposal from the Governor it was withdrawn from the docket, and is being sent back to committee to reconsider how to move forward.