8/13/2021 8:01:00 AM Legislative Report From Rep. Jason Saine
Lincoln Herald Staff email@example.com
Legislative Report From Rep. Jason Saine
It isn't a 'done deal' just yet. Rep. Jason Saine issued a news release including items from the NC House budget on Thursday afternoon. Now, the House budget and Senate budget will have to be reconciled by conference committees. Saine, as senior chair of the House appropriations committee, is also chair of the House conference committee that will iron out any differences.
Saine told us Friday morning (Aug. 13th) that the Senate created a lean budget intentionally, leaving adding various projects for locales and fattening out some other appropriations up to the House. "Thanks to a budget surplus, we had some money to spend," Saine told us. "The Senate bill includes raises for teachers, but we increased it and added more pay for those with higher degrees."
One of the projects that may mean the most to some Lincoln Countians is the long-sought improvements to the NC16-business and Unity Church Road/Triangle Circle intersection. The latest NCDOT plans indicated that might not happen until 2025, but if it is in the 2021-2022 budget, the money will have to be used for that purpose, so the improvements will likely come by 2023.
The House budget, according to Rep. Saine, includes:
$2 billion in tax cuts over the next two years
$5.8 billion in capital projects and infrastructure
Over $1 billion in broadband expansion
5.5% teacher raises
2.5% state employee raises
$465 million in disaster-related programs
$500 million for small business grants for COVID recovery
$2.8 billion in our savings reserve
Invests in mental health facilities
In addition to raising teachers' pay, it also restores a Master's pay supplement for teachers, provides teachers with 8 weeks of paid parental leave, and eliminates a requirement for teachers to pay for substitutes when using leave time.
The proposal also makes unemployment benefits nontaxable income.
The budget includes funding for several major items for Lincoln County: In addition to allocating $2,300,000 for the improvements to that NC16-business and SR-1439/SR-1387 Intersection , it also includes money for:
Creation of a new Public Defender office for Lincoln and Cleveland County – $500,000
Lincoln County Airport Improvements – $500,000
Lincoln County Court House Repairs and Renovations - $4,500,000
Rescue Park Soccer Fields - $1,100,000
North Lincoln High School Field Turf - $400,000
Lincoln County Senior Center Patio - $20,000
City of Lincolnton Playground - $242,650
City of Lincolnton Rail Trail - $91,300
Amy’s House - $2,000,000
East Lincoln County Fire Station and Sheriff’s Office - $5,700,000
Lincoln County Landfill - $1,750,000
Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department Equipment - $200,000
Lincoln County Wastewater Improvements $200,000
The Lincolnton-Lincoln County Airport has a big hole in the ground to the right of the entrance to the airport terminal area. Filling it in will be an important step toward possible future industrial expansion close to the airport.
The $4.5 million for repairs to the current Lincoln County Courthouse will help to make it more attractive to a potential buyer if the County proceeds with its plan for repurposing of that building. The UNC School of Govt. will seek a buyer who will reuse the building in line with restrictions County Commissioners impose.
Amy's House, the domestic violence shelter, wants to move into a new facility. The $2 million will be used for that purpose.
The soccer fields for Rescue Squad Park and the patio at the Senior Center are self-explanatory. The $400,000 for an artificial turf field at North Lincoln High School was actually included at the request of Deanna Ballard, a state senator from Watauga County, who is a Lincoln County native. Artificial turf fields offer many advantages including better drainage, and over time, they are actually less expensive to maintain than natural grass. Hickory High School was the first in our area (Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston, Cleveland counties) to decide on an artificial turf field.
The two city of Lincolnton allocations would be used to put a new playground adjacent to the concession stand at the City's Highland Drive Park. The current playground would then be used for additional parking. The other project would continue the planned patio project on the Marcia Cloninger Rail Trail. The City is going to use $45K from the Tourism Authority, a $50k Timken grant, and $5k from Electricities to create a patio on the south side of Sycamore Street and a stage on the west side of the rail trail on the north side of Sycamore. The additional money would be used to extend a retaining wall to Pine Street.
We'll try to further detail the probable uses of the allocations (if approved) in a later article.
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