Without a new state budget in place, millions of dollars in funding for residents of Johnston County is being held up in Raleigh.
A resolution was adopted last week by Johnston County Commissioners asking Governor Roy Cooper and members of the NC General Assembly to work together to pass the state budget for fiscal year 2019-21 biennium. The current proposed state budget includes over $39 million in critical funding for education, community safety and economic development initiatives for several Johnston County organizations and municipalities.
The $39 million in funds include:
- $27.6 million to Johnston County Schools for school construction
- $5.1 million to Johnston Community College for construction
- $75,000 for the Truck Driver Training Program at Johnston Community College
- $150,000 to the Town of Smithfield for infrastructure needs
- $50,000 to the Pine Level Police Department
- $100,000 to the Banner American Legion
- $25,000 to the Clayton Chamber of Commerce
- $75,000 to Smithfield for Downtown Development
- $100,000 to the Town of Benson for water infrastructure
- $25,000 to the Town of Benson for water infrastructure
- $50,000 to the Town of Micro for water infrastructure
- $200,000 to the Town of Four Oaks for water infrastructure
- $100,000 to the Town of Wilson’s Mills for water infrastructure
- $15,000 to the Town of Princeton for downtown revitalization
- $100,000 to the Town of Smithfield for building renovation
- $5.1 million to the Johnston Regional Airport over the biennium
- $257,000 to the Selma Union Station Depot
- $260,000 to the Town of Kenly for civic center renovations
- $50,000 to the Town of Kenly for asbestos removal
The resolution signed by Commissioner Chairman Ted Godwin states, “Johnston County Board of Commissioners strongly encourages all members of the General Assembly to act in accordance with the needs of the State and support Johnston County by taking measures to ensure these important programs, included in the proposed state budget, are funded for the communities that they will so clearly benefit.”Godwin said he is unsure if the resolution will help, but added it will only cost a postage stamp to send it to state leaders.
NC House Representative Larry Strickland said, “I join my fellow Johnston and Harnett residents and our county commissioners in their frustration at the continued budget impasse. In my District there are nine municipalities: Micro, Smithfield, Selma, Wilson’s Mills, Benson, Four Oaks, Angier, Kenly, and Pine Level. The budget we passed out of the North Carolina House on September 11, 2019, contained state funding for the betterment of all of these municipalities. This money would have funded critical needs facing the whole county including updating old sewer and water infrastructure as well as funds for the removal of asbestos and the demolition of older buildings. These funds would have greatly contributed to the continued economic development of Johnston County and the delay in their implementation is measurably hurting our community’s development. In addition to these funds for development, the Budget included a significant pay raise for our teachers. In the North Carolina House of Representatives, we have done our job and approved this money, but the Governor’s continued stubbornness has meant that these funds will not be making our county stronger, but instead be sitting unused in Raleigh.”
“Despite this setback, however, I am proud to have joined the efforts of my colleagues in the Johnston County delegation to secure $5.1 million worth of funding for the Johnston County Airport as well as funds to renovate the Selma Depot as part of a Transportation Mini-Budget. The impact these funds are already having towards furthering our goal of smart economic growth in Johnston County illustrates how important it is that we fund the projects that were in the full budget. We in the Johnston County delegation are optimistic that in the upcoming legislative session we will be able to ensure that Johnston and Harnett counties receive the funding we so desperately need for our future,” Rep. Strickland stated.
Representative Donna White issued a statement Monday. “The Johnston County Representation to the NC State House voted and passed the budget in June, voted to override the veto in September and from mid-summer to mid November passed significant mini-budgets. Unfortunately, the full budget is still vetoed with little promise that it will be passed before end of short session.”
“I totally understand the frustration of local municipalities, the county commissioners, and other special projects for organizations in our county. I was honored to be appointed Health Policy and Health Appropriations Chair. I was given a 2.3 % increase for my overall budget. I put in the budget 8 million dollars for the communicable disease program to help all one hundred health departments and extra for Johnston County due to our growth. Wouldn’t it be nice if Dr. Pearson had that resource now with the coronavirus . I put in 1000 new slots for Independent living for Development Disabilities (currently young adult residents of this service are being taken off the programs to go back to facilities because of no budget.)”
“I put in first time permanent funding for Special Olympics and Senior Games. I put in funding for Early Childhood Education, increase funding for employees in assisted living and increase funding for per diem allowances for residents in assisted living. I put 8 million dollars for home and community care block grant that provides home care and home delivered meals. So six months of 18 hour days developing a Health and Human Service budget and none of these services and the rest of my multi-million dollar budget is available because the budget is still vetoed!”
“Yes, I am disappointed,” Rep. White said.
“I am very grateful that my HB 812 was signed, the first nutrient banking bill ever signed, that is good news for the Neuse River from Falls Lake to the Pamlico Sound. I am glad that Novo Nordick has a pre-waste water treatment plant from my work. I am very grateful that the Speaker helped me get 1.6 million to serve as a required match to prevent losing a multi-million dollar federal grant to extend Hwy 42 to relieve the traffic as well as relieve some congestion on Hwy 42 W, provide quicker access to the 70 Bypass that will be Interstate 42 and give three of the largest employers in JOCO access to get their products delivered. These are good accomplishments and I am thankful.””I am so thankful that we were able to assist DOT with the mini-budget and Disaster relief with a mini-budget. Smithfield benefited from some of the Disaster money. As a member of the Education K-12 Committee I regret that the mini-budget for teachers was vetoed. Today 0-16 year teachers would be approximately $2500 better in their biennium paychecks, 17-25, $3500, better and teachers over 25, the largest pay raise in a biennium.”
“So, yes I am very disappointed that we don’t have a passed budget. Respectfully to my Constituents, I will continue to work as hard for you as I can,” Rep. White said in her statement.