Some folks are saying that the new $105 million nursing school building at the University of North Carolina Greensboro should be named the Wade Nursing & STEM Building, for State Sen. Trudy Wade, because without Wade’s support the building wouldn’t have been funded.
The $105 million for the school is in the Connect North Carolina bond package passed by the voters in the March primary, but if Wade hadn’t become involved, the nursing school at UNCG was going to be left out.
The issue was not that UNCG didn’t need a new building. The problem was mainly geography. NC Agriculture and Technology State University was already in the bond for a $90 million engineering building, and some in state government objected to Greensboro receiving nearly $200 million of the $2 billion statewide bond. There are 100 counties in North Carolina and they all wanted a piece of the pie.
Neither Gov. Pat McCrory’s version of the bond package, nor the version passed by the state House, included the $105 million for UNCG. The money for UNCG was added in the Senate version and remained in the final version passed by both houses, signed by McCrory and passed by the voters.
When asked about her efforts to include the $105 million for UNCG in the bond package, Wade said, “It was a team effort. We work together in the Senate.”
President Pro Tem of the state Senate Phil Berger, who also represents a portion of Greensboro in the legislature, was more forthcoming, saying, “Sen. Wade has been a strong and consistent advocate for UNC-Greensboro, and she played an integral role in ensuring the new nursing and STEM building was included in both the Senate proposal and the final Connect NC bond. Her work will help the university educate more students and better prepare them for well-paying, 21st century jobs.”
Wade is an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in the General Assembly and Berger is considered by many to be the most powerful elected official in state government.
In North Carolina, a bill passed by the General Assembly can become law with or without the governor’s signature. But nothing becomes law without being passed by the state Senate.
Since, as Wade said, the Republican state senators work as a team, the person calling the shots in the state Senate, in this case Berger, has more control over what becomes law than anyone else.
This $105 million for UNCG, plus the $90 million for A&T, is a prime example of why the Greensboro City Council’s war with the state legislature is so detrimental to the people of Greensboro.
It has become a joke, albeit a sad one, at Greensboro City Council meetings when someone mentions that maybe the city should petition the state government for assistance or a new law. Some member of the City Council will say, “Like that’s ever going to happen,” and everyone laughs, because the City of Greensboro and the state legislature currently have an adversarial relationship.
It’s sad because for years Greensboro had a relatively weak delegation in Raleigh and couldn’t get consideration because there was no one from Greensboro in Raleigh who could shepherd legislation through the General Assembly.
Now with Berger and Wade in the Senate, Greensboro has the opportunity to make up for lost time, but because the City Council has chosen to denigrate the Republican-led legislature and to fight a very personal war against Wade, Greensboro is left out. As Wade says, the Republicans in the Senate work as a team, and when the team and one of its members are under attack, the group doesn’t take it lightly.
For example, in the short session of the legislature this year, Greensboro’s downtown was left out of a statewide funding bill for downtowns. High Point received $500,000. Greensboro got nothing.
Hiring attorneys and filing a lawsuit against the City Council redistricting passed by the legislature didn’t help, but the personal attacks against Wade by members of the City Council took the legal dispute to another level.
The Greensboro City Council could do the citizens of Greensboro a favor by swallowing its pride and attempting to mend fences before the next legislature is seated in January.
Berger will certainly be there, since he is running unopposed. Wade has an opponent, Democrat Michael Garrett. Anything can happen in politics, but it is a Republican district and Garrett is running against an incumbent Republican, so the odds are that Wade will be back.
The city, although the City Council hates to admit it, is a creature of the state government. Like all cities in North Carolina, it was created by the state government, and changing the city charter requires the approval of the state government. The state could, if it wanted, abolish the city government all together, or make Greensboro part of High Point.
It simply doesn’t serve the city well to attack the state government, and attacking state legislators personally hurts the city and its citizens.