RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - Governor Roy Cooper on Thursday outlined his administration’s supplemental budget recommendations on how millions of dollars in federal and state funds should be used to address North Carolina’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cooper’s plan would make use of the $4 billion in federal money earmarked for North Carolina in the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021,″ which was signed into law on Dec. 27.
Those federal funds would address:
- Approximately $2 billion for emergency assistance for public and private K-12 schools and higher education institutions.
- $336 million for childcare and development block grants.
- Approximately $700 million for access to vaccines and testing, tracing and prevention measures to slow the spread of the virus.
- $546 million for emergency rental assistance, which would build on North Carolina’s current work with the HOPE program.
- $258 million for Highway Infrastructure and $65 million for airports.
- $47 million for Community Mental Health Services.
- Funding for food assistance programs, such as SNAP and school nutrition.
In addition to the federal allocation plan, Cooper’s plan recommends investing $695 million from the state’s General Fund, which currently has a balance of nearly $5 billion, to address other immediate needs which include:
- $50 million for continued hazard duty pay for state employees on the frontlines of COVID-19, especially law enforcement and corrections personnel who face COVID-19 every day.
- $64.5 million for the replenishment of the North Carolina State Health Plan, which has incurred costs responding to COVID-19.
- $468 million for bonuses for educators and school personnel in public K-12 schools, community colleges and the university system. This would be a one-time bonus of $2,500 for teachers and principals, $1,500 for school personnel in public K-12, and $2,000 for workers in community colleges and universities.
- $30 million to extend high-speed internet to all corners of the state and other urgent connectivity initiatives, such as IT infrastructure, security for community colleges and enhancement of 35,000 hotspots used for education.
- $37 million to support small businesses that have suffered during the pandemic and often don’t have large cash reserves, including small business counselling, marketing for tourism and hospitality, ReTOOLNC program for historically underutilized businesses (HUBs), and the business loan program at Golden L.E.A.F.
- Expansion of state unemployment benefits, with increasing the maximum duration of benefits to 26 weeks and increase the maximum benefit from $350 to $500 per week.
“I appreciate the work of legislators to quickly pass vital relief as the state responded to the pandemic last year and I believe we can work together to get the job done again. Our communities and people face serious challenges and we must come together to identify areas of common ground and help our people beat the pandemic and thrive once again,” said Governor Cooper.