Governor's Budget includes $30 million for mental health, diverts lottery funds
Governor Pat McCrory introduced his recommended adjustments to the state budget
for the next fiscal year, proposing a $22.3 billion budget for 2016-17 with expansions driven by $237 million in additional statewide revenues mostly from personal income tax growth as well as savings from lower-than-expected Medicaid growth.
The recommended adjustments include an average 5 percent raise for teachers and a one-time, average 3.5 percent bonus for teachers and principals. There is no raise or COLA for state employees or retirees, but state employees would receive an average, one-time 3 percent bonus.
The budget also includes $30 million in additional funds for mental health programs to meet recommendations from the Governor’s Mental Health Task Force. These funds would go to case management, heroin and prescription drug use programs, treatment courts and justice system diversion as well as emergency housing for those transitioning out of emergency rooms and jails. The additional money would help achieve an association goal to ensure adequate state funding for mental health services and facilities at the local level. Many of the recommendations included in the budget proposal for mental health were generated by the NCACC Mental Health Engagement Task Force
established in 2014 by Past President Ronnie Beale of Macon County.
In another positive development, the Governor's education budget recommends $1 million from lottery funds to complete a school construction needs assessment for 50 counties determined by the low-wealth school funding formula to have the lowest ability to pay for school facilities. However, higher-than-projected revenue from Powerball and other sales is diverted to non-instructional support positions, classroom supplies and equipment, two scholarship programs and digital technology. When the lottery was originally enacted, counties received this excess revenue in addition to 40 percent of proceeds used for school construction needs. The NCACC advocates that this funding return to its original purpose.
NCACC is in the process of analyzing the remaining details in the Governor’s budget and drafting our report, which will be available on the NCACC website
. The House will take the next steps and begin drafting their recommended changes to the biennial budget with a target release by mid-May. The Senate will then follow with its proposal.