Spellings tours UNCW and talks budget, HB2

Spellings tours UNCW and talks budget, HB2

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - When lawmakers go back to work next week for the "short session" of the General Assembly, they will likely hear from the leader of the state's university system. During a stop in Wilmington on Friday, UNC System President Margaret Spellings mentioned several issues she will be address with the members of the state House and Senate.

After an address to the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Spellings spoke about one of her legislative priorities, to have lawmakers lift a cap put on donations for use on university campuses. "One of the things I think we've convinced them on is that many of the donations and gifts that we get from the philanthropic and private sector really are directed around particular programs, and not for overhead for fundraising," Spellings told reporters. "I think in a day and time when state resources are scarce, and tuition and affordability is a keen issue for our students and taxpayers, we need to find and garner all the support from the private and philanthropic sector, and we don't want to put limits on doing that."

Spellings also mentioned funding in speaking about the controversial "Facilities and Privacy Act", commonly called House Bill 2. It mandates transgender people use public restrooms that correspond to the gender on their birth certificate.  Spellings and others believe that the law could put federal funding at risk under Title IX, the 1972 law that requires schools receiving federal funding to treat men and women equally.

"I do think the Fourth Circuit (Court of Appeals) case that came down this week makes for a serious look at what the consequences are with respect to federal funds," Spelling said. "We're looking at that and will be looking at these things as the days go on. I think our federal funding is potentially at question, so we will be talking with our state legislators about what changes, if any, might be possible to keep those funds from being at risk."

Spellings praised the budget proposal unveiled Friday by Governor Pat McCrory, which includes pay raises for teachers and state employees, and $3 million to "recruit and retain exceptional faculty at UNC system campuses".

"We need to invest in excellent people to run excellent institutions," Spellings added. "Those public servants need and deserve a raise and it's been a long time since one was had. We're fully supportive and looking forward to working with him and the legislature to get that done."

Spellings also saluted UNC Wilmington for being ahead in addressing trends in higher education, such as serving military veterans and part-time students.

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