CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — University of North Carolina campuses — including students and employees — could suffer if the extended state budget impasse isn’t resolved soon, system President Bill Roper said Friday.
A two-year budget that was supposed to take effect last July 1 has never been enacted. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of that plan in June hasn’t been overridden by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. Negotiations have sputtered amid failed attempts by Senate Republicans to complete the override.
While several smaller spending bills have become law, the stalemate has blocked money to cover enrollment growth for students who need scholarships, as well as raises for full-time UNC workers and nearly $800 million in construction, Roper said. The legislature met for one day on Tuesday without an override or a compromise reached between Cooper and Republicans.
The UNC Board of Governors, meeting Friday, passed unanimously a resolution calling on elected leaders to “move swiftly” to approve the state budget that includes the higher education projects, according to news sources.
“People have long said how much they support this system. And I ask you, please spare us the platitudes,” Roper said. “Just get the budget done.”
Senate leader Phil Berger suggested this week that he’d be inclined not to pass a separate budget for the next fiscal year if the stalemate continues. Berger blames Cooper’s insistence on having Medicaid expansion as part of any deal for the impasse.
“There is no reason for us to go through the process of adopting a budget that will be vetoed — regardless of what it says — as long as it doesn’t have Medicaid expansion,” Berger said on Tuesday.
Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said corporate tax breaks in the budget are to blame for a lack of educator pay and “real investments in university infrastructure.”
“The Board of Governors should continue to tell the legislative leaders who appointed them to compromise and pass a budget that is good for education and our state,” Porter said in a news release.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Roper and board Chairman Randy Ramsey repeatedly declined to comment on the settlement that gives $2.5 million and a Civil War commemorative statue previously on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus to a Confederate heritage group. Roper cited the ongoing litigation over the disposition of the “Silent Sam” monument for their reticence.