A new North Carolina state budget proposal could have a big impact on Western North Carolina. With the General Assembly planning to vote on the $20.6 billion biennial spending plan this week, here’s a look at some of the key provisions that are likely to effect the region.
Here’s an excerpt from the Carolina Public Press – click here for the full story.
Summary of key WNC items in the plan:
• The budget would spare two historic sites — the Vance Birthplace in Buncombe County and the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort — that were slated for closure in some previous budget proposals.
• The budget would advance a plan by the North Carolina State Crime Laboratory to expand toxicology work, which is presently only conducted in the Triad and the Triangle, to WNC. The lack of toxicology capacity in the western part of the state has led to huge backlogs in the processing of blood samples from DWI cases.
• The state’s Rural Economic Development Center, which recently had its funds frozen after a critical report by the state auditor’s office, would close for good under the new budget. In its place, the budget bill mandates the creation of a new Rural Economic Development Division within the N.C. Department of Commerce.
• The budget would dedicate $10 million to create a fund for compensating victims of North Carolina’s eugenics program, which led to the sterilization of 7,600 individuals. Verified victims would be compensated $50,000 a piece.
• Under the eugenics program, Buncombe County had the fifth most sterilizations of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
• The budget would provide an extra $4 million to Appalachian State University and UNC Asheville for capital projects.
• Under the proposed budget, the Buncombe Correctional Center, in Asheville, would remain open. The Senate’s initial budget proposal had called for it to close.