Representative Susan Fisher
Buncombe County ~ District 114
7 Maple Ridge Lane
Asheville, NC 28806
From the Office of Representative Susan Fisher
January 19, 2012
The full General Assembly is set to return to session in February, but in the meantime we remain busy with interim committee meetings and budget discussions. In addition, I am active here at home in support of our community.
An Appropriations Committee comprised of both House and Senate members met this week to get updates on the state’s budget. Committee members learned that Gov. Perdue and her administration helped North Carolina win one of nine federal grants for pre-kindergarten programs. The $70 million grant will help the state improve the quality of pre-kindergarten programs and the public’s access to them
The Committee also received a sobering update on budget cuts within the University of North Carolina system. Details of that report are below.
It remains unclear what we may be asked to consider during our February session. The House leadership continues to provide very little information about which bills they may want to hear during their special sessions. I will let you know about what may be ahead as the info becomes available.
The UNC system – which includes the state’s 16 public universities, UNC-TV, the North Carolina Arboretum and the N.C. School of Science & Math – had to cut a total of $444 million from its budget this year. Most of that cut – $414 million – came as a “flex reduction” that had to be administered by the university at each campus.
The university system was forced to cut need-based financial aid by $35 million. As a result, 9,500 fewer students are receiving need-based aid through the universities in this academic year. That’s a 14 percent decrease. In addition, the average award is down by $225, even as costs continue to increase for our college students.
A breakdown of cuts at each university:
University 2011-12 Budget ($) Reduction ($) %Cut
Appalachian State University 142,428,582 (22,769,436) (16.0)
East Carolina University 306,300,820 (49,131,532) (16.0)
Elizabeth City State University 38,049,583 (3,776,481) (9.9)
Fayetteville State University 56,968,000 (8,435,863) (14.8)
N.C. A&T University 103,260,908 (14,171,475) (13.7)
N.C. Central University 93,107,991 (13,079,305) (14.0)
N.C. State University 525,756,101 (79,254,959) (15.1)
UNC Asheville 38,722,709 (4,550,752) (11.8)
UNC Chapel Hill 562,988,263 (100,772,809)(17.9)
UNC Charlotte 207,551,004 (33,531,142) (16.2)
UNC Greensboro 172,471,412 (26,340,436) (15.3)
UNC Pembroke 58,969,228 (9,118,731) (15.5)
UNC Wilmington 104,947,523 (16,571,939) (15.8)
UNC School of the Arts 27,637,087 (2,974,951) (10.8)
Western Carolina University 86,388,741 (14,170,594) (16.4)
Winston Salem State University 72,842,608 (10,076,534) (13.8)
NC School of Science & Math 18,657,685 (1,559,086) (8.4)
NC Arboretum 2,521,603 (311,397) (12.3)
General Administration 27,628,722 (3,390,072) (12.3)
Total 2,647,198,570 (413,987,494) (15.6%)
The result of these deep cuts has been the elimination of nearly 2,500 jobs within the university system, including more than 1,100 faculty positions. Per student funding, which had remained flat even through the worst period of the recession, is now down nearly 13 percent, with university wide enrollments continuing to increase every year. The number of classes with more than 50 students has increased by 200 since 2007.
In addition, students are beginning to feel that they are not getting what they pay for. Some examples are below.
_ Fayetteville State: 32 percent of students surveyed said classes were too large; 36 percent said they could not get classes that they need to graduate.
_ North Carolina A&T: 121 more closed sections (+13.5%) this fall than in Fall 2010.
_ North Carolina Central: 350 students unable to get placement in required general education math courses.
_ North Carolina State: 400 fewer seats in lower division biology, the gateway course for life science majors.
_ UNC Asheville: Reductions in the Academic Advising Office have resulted in a ratio of one advisor per 1,000 students.
_ UNC Chapel Hill: Reduced its Finance and Administration budget by 33 percent and its Human Resources budget by 24 percent.
_ UNC Greensboro: Lost 12 information technology workers, 10 percent of its total staff.
_ UNC School of the Arts: Closed its Career Services Office.
I continue to be amazed by the amount of damage done by the budget the majority passed this year, particularly in education, an area most of us agree is of prime importance in North Carolina.
A hearing was held last week in the redistricting lawsuit filed by citizens across the state, along with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, the NAACP and other organizations. Another is scheduled for Friday. The lawsuit challenges districts for Congress and the General Assembly, saying they were drawn based on race and that they will segregate the state’s voting population. The groups challenging the maps cite the number of split voting precincts as proof the mapmakers were using race as the predominant factor in forming the maps. The proposed plans split 563 precincts that comprise a voting-age population of nearly 2 million. A black adult is 56 percent more likely to be in a split precinct than a non-Hispanic white adult.
A number of new laws went into place January 1. For a full list of new laws, visitwww.ncleg.net. Under the heading on the left titled “News and Information,” click on the item titled “2011 Legislation with Effective Dates.”
Thank you as always for your interest in state government. In the meantime, please contact me if I can be of help.
Keep in touch,