On November 18th, after months of negotiations between state legislators, Governor Cooper signed into law North Carolina’s first budget in nearly three years. The $25.9 billion spending plan allocates state revenue funds and appropriates the $5.4 billion of American Rescue Plan funds received from the federal government. One of the most notable items is the $1 billion investment in broadband expansion, which, when combined with the state’s forthcoming allotment of federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will help to improve internet access statewide.
There are also several provisions in the budget to help councils of governments (COGs) further their support for the communities they serve. Specifically, the North Carolina Association of Regional Councils of Government (NCARCOG) received $6 million to provide technical assistance with local recovery funds for disaster relief and recovery. NCARCOG also received $10 million to provide guidance and technical assistance to local governments in administering funds from the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. Additionally, there is a provision for a memorandum of agreement between NCARCOG and the NC Department of Health and Human Services for housing the new Child Welfare Services regional supervision offices. Individual COGs are also eligible for funding from Local Government Infrastructure Grants and the newly established Local Assistance Stormwater Infrastructure Investments Fund.
The budget also includes items that will have a direct impact on our region. There is a provision directing NC Emergency Management to work with Centralina, Western Piedmont Council of Governments and Piedmont Triad Regional Council to study the feasibility of closing the radar gap impacting the Piedmont. Additionally, several local governments received direct appropriations to address water and wastewater infrastructure needs.
This long-awaited budget is a compromise that makes critical investments in resiliency, infrastructure and natural resources that will move the state and the Centralina region forward.