Budget adjustment proposal released

Higher education spending in North Carolina would increase by nearly $112 million, according to budget figures presented during a Joint Appropriations Committee meeting May 11 at the Legislative Office Building.

This increase would be in addition to the $1.82 billion in funding previously approved by state legislators for the 2005 fiscal year.

At the meeting, members of the House of Representatives and Senate representatives received Gov. Mike Easley’s budget recommendations for the coming fiscal year.

Institutions in the University of North Carolina system would benefit from the recommended increases, as would private institutions and the state¹s community colleges. Most of the increased spending would go to pay for enrollment increases within the UNC system. Funding for those increases will come from tuition increases approved by the UNC Board of Governors in March.

Enrollment funding for the 16 public institutions comprising the UNC system will equal roughly $64.7 million.
The state’s private colleges and universities would receive $4.2 million to offset increased enrollment and financial aid costs.

Under the recommendations, the North Carolina Community College System would receive $20 million for enrollment increases. It would also receive an additional $7.5 million for equipment upgrades.

During the debate over the budget, some legislators questioned the proposed funding increase for community colleges. Several wondered if the amount would be enough to offset enrollment increases and job training initiatives.

Dan Gerlach with the Governor’s Budget Office said the recommended funding was short of the $230 million that the NCCCS had requested. He said, however, that there would community colleges would receive an additional $10 million for equipment in a supplemental budget.

“It is still enough to get (community colleges) in the right direction,” Gerlach said of the proposed NCCCS funding increase.

NASCAR research complex

UNC-Charlotte would benefit from a proposal to spend $15 million on a “North Carolina Motorsports Testing and Research Complex.” The complex would operate through a motorsports institute at UNCC.

Other proposed spending increases for higher education include $6 million for UNC dinstinguished faculty chairs. Also, an adjustment of $115,031 has been proposed for the N.C. School of Arts.