RALEIGH — Gov. Roy Cooper put items that will affect the Fayetteville-Fort Bragg area into his proposed state budget for the 2017-19 biennium.
But as Cooper is a Democrat facing veto-proof Republican majorities in the legislature — majorities that have been undercutting his power and fighting him in court — one has to wonder how seriously the legislature will treat his recommendations.
That said, here are some of the ideas Cooper put into his $23.5 billion spending plan:
Cooper proposed $115 million for programs to help victims of last year’s Hurricane Matthew, other storms and the western North Carolina wildfires. This includes $15 million left over from the current state budget.
He wants $10 million to move people from temporary housing into permanent homes and $30 million “for most critical unmet needs” for public assistance, soil and water, and damaged dam projects.
Teacher pay would rise an average of 5 percent this coming year and another 5 percent the year after that, with a goal of reaching the national average for teacher salaries in five years.
The legislature, too, has been boosting teacher pay and promises to continue to do so. In the end, the question likely won’t be whether teachers continue to get raises, but how soon and by how much.
Fayetteville State University would get $7.9 million to upgrade its water, sewer and stormwater management systems.
The University North Carolina at Pembroke would get $10.1 million to renovate its West Hall building, which has administrative offices.
The North Carolina Eastern Justice Academy in Salemburg would get $8.4 million to renovate two dormitories.
Cooper’s budget provides $120,000 for the Troops to Teachers program, which recruits veterans for teaching careers and gives them assistance with the transition.
He allocates $4 million to support efforts to make it attractive for the military to keep its bases here — an effort to prevent them from being closed or reduced the next time Congress does a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process to reallocate the nation’s military assets.
Cooper also has $1.5 million for scholarships for children of war veterans.
Search and rescue
The Cooper budget has $2 million for training and equipment for urban search-and-rescue teams in seven counties, including Cumberland.
Cooper calls his budget “Common Ground Solutions for NC,” indicating he wants to try to work with the legislature.
Already, Republican leaders lawmakers are criticizing his budget.
According to WRAL, Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown said Cooper has some good ideas but he wants to spend too much.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger was harsh. His news release said Cooper's budget is a "massive spending proposal" with a "reckless $1 billion spending spree." On Facebook, Berger criticized the budget by publishing an unflattering photo of Cooper and tagging it #spendsanity.
We'll see how many of Cooper's ideas survive their scrutiny.
Staff writer Paul Woolverton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 910-486-3512.