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Gov. Roy Cooper said the budget passed by both chambers of the General Assembly was an “astonishing failure of common sense and common decency.” I beg to differ.
When I look at this budget, I see investments in education, increases in teacher and state employee salaries, funding for school construction and much-needed disaster recovery resources. But what I fail to see is one controversial issue, Medicaid expansion, holding up an otherwise uncommonly good budget.
I see broadband infrastructure for rural areas as a top priority for my district and all of North Carolina. I see $150 million for the GREAT program — Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology — over a 10-year period being matched with private funds for the deployment of broadband in rural communities that desperately need this essential technology.
I see Franklin County public schools and Nash County public schools gaining $14,047,855 and $16,943,741, respectively, as part of a new statewide school construction initiative. I see $15 million in new funding for classroom supplies and $150 allocated per teacher in the first year and $200 in the second year directly to teachers to purchase supplies for their classrooms.
I see investments of $91 million in school safety measures to protect our children, including new funding for additional school resource officers and mental health professionals. I see $112 million in disaster relief funding to many parts of our state still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes and extensive flooding.
I see funding I have worked hard to secure for my district in jeopardy, such as:
• $50,000 to the Franklin County Farmers Market
• $25,000 to the town of Louisburg downtown revitalization
• $15,000 to the Middlesex Police Department
• $15,000 to the town of Bailey downtown revitalization
• $15,000 to the Northeast Franklin County Revitalization Committee
I see continued successful pro-growth policies of lower taxes, fewer regulations and responsible spending that has produced record jobs, low unemployment and historic savings.
I see a General Assembly that has introduced a bill to close the health care coverage gap and that is ready to have a special session to discuss the complicated matter of Medicaid expansion with the governor.
I see the common-sense and decent thing to do is to pass this budget. Hopefully, my colleagues across the aisle will see that too.
Rep. Lisa Barnes is in her first term representing House District 7, which includes all of Franklin County and part of Nash County. She can be reached at 919-715-3032 and Lisa.Barnes@ncleg.net.