House releases budget proposal

RALEIGH – University of North Carolina system’s funding will be increased by more than $46 million, according to the House budget bill that was released Friday.

The House’s budget bill was introduced during a full meeting of the House Appropriations Committee. In all, the 2005 fiscal year budget is about $15.85 billion, with nearly $345 million in budget increases.

The UNC budget is nearly $1.87 billion, up from the $1.82 billion that was approved last year. Most of the new appropriations come from increases in student population, as well as new programs at a number of state institutions.

Also, community college funding was increased by $28 million with the 2005 fiscal year appropriation now at about $688 million. Most of those increases will fund pay raises for faculty members.

According to the proposed budget, House members agreed with Gov. Mike Easley’s recommendations for a management flexibility reduction of 1.7 percent, or $26 million, for UNC campuses. Those cuts do not apply to the North Carolina School of Science and Math and UNC-Area Health Education Center, which received a separate .85 percent cut or $754,174.

UNC Hospitals’ appropriation was reduced by 2 percent or $774,279.

Other cuts in the UNC budget include the elimination of funding for the distance education pilot project ($500,000) and $70,101 from the UNC General Administration budget.

While there were reductions in the UNC budget, several budget line items included increased or new spending measures.

The largest single increase was about $64 million to fund the increased enrollment in the UNC system. According to the House budget, the UNC system will have 7,458 new full-time equivalent students this year for a total of 165,564 students.

The North Carolina School for Science and Math received an additional $700,000 for 35 additional students.

Among the new spending measures was $420,000 for tuition grants assistance for students who attend bible colleges. The grants are similar to the Legislative Tuition Grant, according to the budget proposal.

Rep. Douglas Yongue, D-46, who briefed members on UNC’s appropriation, said legislators had already approved the program last year and this action would fund the measure.

UNC-Wilmington was allocated $2 million for a marine biology program. The Coastal Studies Institute will receive $650,000 in recurring funding and $1.3 million in non-recurring funding to study the Roanoke Islands.

Other new spending programs include $400,000 to UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine to establish and implement a kidney disease education program.

East Carolina University and N.C. State will receive $150,000, according to the budget, for a technology development initiative to provide advance degrees in engineering and business at off-campus sites.

Legislators are expected to examine the budget in the coming weeks. The short session is expected to adjourn by July 1, in time for legislators to return to their districts before the July 20 primary.

Shannon Blosser ( is a staff writer with the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.