May 25, 2018
Lawmakers in their second week of session continued work on the state budget package, announcing raises for state workers and appropriations for school safety measures. Internet access was a hot topic this week with Democrat lawmakers introducing a state net neutrality proposal, budget writers earmarking $10 million for rural broadband investment grants, and the FCC chairman discussing digital innovation and 5G in Charlotte.
Have a fun and safe Memorial Day Weekend!
State and Legislative Issues
Just a week into the short session, legislators are preparing to roll out their spending plan to adjust the two-year budget they passed in 2017. In a move that has upset many Democrats, Republicans are using an unrelated bill and replacing the language with the budget conference report. This procedure will make for a quicker than normal process, but will not allow for any amendments to the budget. The bill will be heard in each chamber’s Appropriations Committee on Tuesday before moving quickly to the floor for final votes and on to the Governor.
Legislative leaders announced plans to increase spending on school safety initiatives by $28 million during the 2018-19 fiscal year. The bulk of the money would go towards providing additional mental health services ($15 million for various initiatives). In addition, the legislature would increase funding for school resource officers by $5 million (in addition to $7 million in current funding), provide $5 million in funding for development and implementation of an app that allows students to report safety concerns, and provide $3 million for school safety equipment grants. The additional funding is significantly less than the amount requested by Gov. Roy Cooper in his proposed budget ($130 million), but legislative leaders hope to garner additional federal funds (up to $90 million) for various priorities from Medicaid by leveraging some local spending on school-based health initiatives.
State Worker Raises
Budget writers publicized their plan to raise the minimum salary of full-time state employees to $31,200 (or give a 2 percent raise if their salary is already at or above that amount) as a part of their proposed budget for the next fiscal year. The plan aims to provide more than $200 million towards pay raises for state employees.
Raises coming for state workers, NC leaders announce (Raleigh News & Observer)
Two Triangle-area Democrats introduced a bill this week that would provide state net neutrality protections. The law aims to uphold previous federal net neutrality policies and prohibit “an unfair trade practice,” such as throttling, by internet service providers with customers in North Carolina. The FCC voted last year to repeal federal net neutrality protections which had been in place since 2015. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution to reverse the FCC repeal earlier this month.
Senators propose net neutrality protections in NC (Triangle Business Journal)
Local Issues – Charlotte
FCC Chairman Visit
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stopped in Charlotte on a tour discussing technology innovation and the increased need for connectivity to drive education, employment and economic development opportunities. He praised the state for being a leader in digital innovation, passing legislation last year that promotes the deployment of advanced infrastructure like small cells that will allow for 5G broadband connections. Pai reiterated that internet access is a key tool to bridging the digital divide and setting the table for upward mobility.
Charlotte’s digital innovation will help upward mobility, says FCC chairman (Charlotte Observer)
Local Issues – Raleigh
Apple CEO Tim Cook met privately with Gov. Cooper earlier this month to discuss a potential corporate campus in the Raleigh area. Apple has been quietly vetting potential sites and is expected to announce the city selection this year; Raleigh and Northern Virginia are both suspected top contenders. Apple has had operations in North Carolina since 2009 and a number of executives have ties to the state, including Cook who graduated from Duke’s business school. Legislators last week proposed enhancements to state incentives that will be used to entice economic investment.
Apple Avoids Amazon’s Beauty Contest, Searches Secretly for New Campus (Wall Street Journal)
- 4 things we learned in the first days of the short session (Longleaf Politics)
- Budget earmarks $10M to expand rural broadband (WRAL)
- Trump picks North Carolina’s Robert Wilkie to lead the VA (McClatchy)
- Charlotte homeowners could face triple-whammy on their tax bill (Charlotte Agenda)
- Lowe’s names new CEO and it’s a former top leader of J.C. Penney (Charlotte Observer)
- Asbestos tort reform clears House (WRAL)