On Tuesday, Jan. 14, NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger held a morning press conference and announced that there was no hope for the State of North Carolina to adopt a budget this session and Berger was right.
An attempt to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill linked to the budget to give teachers a 3.9 percent pay raise failed and no vote was taken on the budget veto override before the Senate adjourned until the short session in April.
That’s very bad news for Guilford County, Guilford County government and the planned new mental health center that’s already under construction in Greensboro.
On Tuesday evening, in the wake of the failure of the Senate to pass the budget veto override, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips said that, while he still hopes a state budget can ultimately be approved, he finds the latest news disturbing.
“It would be hugely detrimental for the citizens of Guilford County – and for citizens across the state,” Phillips said of a failure of the state’s legislators to override the veto of the 2019-2021 budget. “I heard this morning – I won’t say who said it – that Guilford County has more to lose than any other county in the state.”
Phillips said it was his understanding that $75 million or more in projects and initiatives in the county hang in the balance. The state budget included money for many area college projects among other things.
Phillips said that $7.7 million in state funding was in the budget for a very important new mental health center in Guilford County, and, though that funding has gotten the green light from both the NC House and NC Senate, it won’t be available if no new state budget is adopted.
The construction of the mental health center has already begun. Phillips said a $7.7 million hole in the county budget could hurt several other major projects that are underway since the county may have to borrow from one or more projects to pay for others. Guilford County is currently building a new animal shelter, a new maintenance center for emergency vehicles and a new headquarters for the Sheriff’s Department.
Phillips said that he’s hoping area Democrats in the NC Senate will change course and help pass a budget.
“It would be incredibly disappointing, to say the least, if one or more Democrats in the State Senate – especially from Guilford County – can’t find a way to support a budget that includes another healthy raise for teachers, desperately needed Guilford County School’s facilities funding, and more than $75 million for several critical projects and programs directly benefiting Guilford County citizens,” Phillips said. “Let’s hope someone can find a way to get on board soon. Anything less would be exactly what most people are sick and tired of about politics. The whole thing has, unfortunately, become more about misguided political strategy and less about doing what’s right for our citizens.”