YOUR TURN, MY TURN

When representatives of the Governor’s budget team presented her $19.2 million proposal, the General Assembly appropriations committees had their chance to weigh in. And they did. The presentations, of course, were civil. But the response of chairs was something like, “you’ve had your turn, now it is our turn.”

As previously reported, the community college budget from the governor strikes out the specialized centers, include the Manufacturing Solutions (hosiery) Center and the Textile Technology Center. This did not go unnoticed. Rep. Marilyn Avila, who made a special trip to visit the MSC, was blunt in her response. “Why would you eliminate programs that a creating jobs?”, she asked. “We had to make difficult choices,” was the reply.

Rep. Mark Hilton after the presentation said the MSC will be preserved. A new $3 million facility for the center is being developed in his home community of Conover. Hilton, chairman of the House Education Appropriations Committee, also will have a say in preserving funds for the Textile Center.

BUT IT WILL BE CHALLENGING…

On Wednesday, the day after the Governor’s presentation, top leaders in the House and Senate sent down “targets” for appropriation chairs. The Education budget writers were ordered to reduce the Governor’s plan by about $700 million. Health Care is to take a $300 million hit. The goal: remove the three-fourths percent sales tax included in Perdue’s document.

Dr. Tom Ross, new UNC system president, told the committee before the targets were handed down that the governor is proposing a 9.5 percent cut to his system. A cut of 10 percent will result in faculty layoffs, he asserted.

Additional cuts to the Community Colleges budget will pose an even greater threat to the Textile Center and the hosiery program.

THINK ABOUT IT…

The unemployment rate is 17.5 percent among North Carolina workers with less than a high school education, 12 percent among high school graduates, 9.4 percent among workers with some college, 4.2 percent among workers with a college degree. Six years from now, 32 percent of all N.C. job openings will require a four-year degree or higher.

Source: Dr. Tom Ross, UNC system president.

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