House Speaker Tim Moore and Rep. Frank Iler took a tour of the Brunswick Community College Southport Center Friday to discuss how state funding would assist the school.
Specifically, they discussed the $2.2 million allocated for BCC in the budget that was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper over a month ago.
Since the veto, the Republicans’ legislative majority in the House has been trying to get enough Democrats to agree to an override so the $24-billion dollar budget can move on to the Senate for a vote.
Moore, a Republican, visited three locations on Friday that had appropriations in the budget.
His first stop was the Pender County Courthouse, where $500,000 was planned for repairing damage from Hurricane Florence. Next, he saw how $13 million would fund upgrades to Fort Fisher aquarium and visitors center. His last stop was a tour of the BCC Southport campus, which had a proposed $2.2 million in the budget.
“The veto has held those up,” said Iler, who is on the BCC Board of Trustees. “They hope to overcome that and get the money coming, so [Moore] is going around the state, just letting people know this is what was in our budget.”
Capital funds for BCC in the budget could be used at any of the four campuses for renovations or expansion.
During the tour, BCC president Dr. Gene Smith and the Southport center’s director Barbara McFall took Moore and members of the delegation into the 9,000 square feet of the building that is under construction. Over the past several years, that area has been worked on, but now it needs some interior renovation.
With help from the budget, the area could soon be complete and ready to offer spaces for woodturning, cabin making, EMT classes and anything else that would meet the future needs of the community.
“The good thing about community college is we can be responsive,” Smith said, “so we wouldn’t build that whole space out and say, ‘This is what’s here forever.’ We want to have some flex space.”
The budget also includes a 1% salary increase for BCC employees this year as well as a 2% increase next year, which Smith stresses they cannot distribute until and unless the budget is passed.
Another highlight of the budget for BCC is hurricane relief funding. After Hurricane Florence hit the coast last fall, many students stopped attending class or didn’t come back in the spring, preventing the college from reaching its full enrollment potential.
Additionally, the budget would provide recurring funds for workforce training and money to expand career and technical education.
If the budget veto is overridden by the House, it will have to receive enough votes from the Senate to become law. However, if the House and Senate cannot override Cooper’s veto, the budget process starts over again.
“We think it’s just a little stumbling block and that we’ll be able to have that budget hopefully soon,” Iler said.
The budget would have taken effect on July 1, but Cooper is insisting on additional funds for a Medicaid expansion in North Carolina. The Democratic governor visited Dosher Memorial Hospital in Southport earlier this month to push his plan for healthcare.
The state government is currently operating under its old budget.