The latest report out of the budget impasse in Raleigh could be great news for Guilford County. It appears Guilford County is being considered for the new Department of Health and Human Services headquarters. It’s a $250 million project which would bring an estimated 2,000 jobs to the county.
It would be incorrect at this point to call what is going on between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper who vetoed the budget and the Republican led legislature as negotiations, because according to both sides there are no serious negotiations taking place. Certainly not this week with President Pro Tem of the Senate Phil Berger at a meeting in Germany. Berger has noted that while they were supposed to be negotiating the budget, Cooper went to New York on an unexplained and unannounced trip while his trip to Germany has been on his schedule for months.
So there is a lot of back and forth about other stuff, but not about the budget because the big budget issue is Medicaid expansion. Cooper insists that any budget he supports is going to include Medicaid expansion. The Republicans in the House are looking at what may be termed “Medicaid Expansion Lite,” but whether that has support in the Senate is questionable. Also from his public statements, it doesn’t appear it’s enough to sway Cooper.
So the real battle is for the Republican leadership to persuade seven Democrats in the House to vote to override Cooper’s veto and Cooper is doing everything he can to prevent it. According to news stories one of the possible rewards Republicans are using as a bargaining chip is the new Department of Health and Human Services headquarters. An earlier plan was to move that state office from Raleigh to Granville County.
But the latest word is that five counties are now being considered for the DHHS headquarters, Guilford along with Wayne, Harnett, Forsyth and Cumberland.
Maybe it’s time for the Guilford County Commissioners to revise and rename Project Haystack and offer some of the more than 600 acres at the old Guilford County Prison Farm for the new DHHS headquarters. But even that might not be enough because it’s not land they are looking for but votes.