Halifax, Nash, Vance, Warren and Wilson Counties
District – 4
Senator Angela R. Bryant
Volume 14, Issue IX
July 5, 2016
To unsubscribe to this newsletter, please click here
NEWS FROM RALEIGH…
I always welcome your comments, project updates, suggestions, and visits. My office door and electronic door are always open to you! You are also invited to attend any and all Sessions and Committees. Visit the website for Session and Committee meeting times. As always, thank you for your support!
· EDUCATION NEWS: Graduates for the Week from Kitrell Job Corps Center – Makeda Williams and Michael Toole; Kittrell Job Corps Center Welcomes April Pierce Residential Advisor; Great Enthusiasts For Education Retires- Dr. Elease Frederick, Debbie Hardy, and Donna Hunter, Ed.D.
· LEGISLATIVE NEWS: Wrapping Up Another Session; District 4 Students Sponsored by Senator Pages –Ashton Murphy and Ron Davis, II; 4-H and Firefighter’s Legislative Day at the General Assembly; Ethics Tip of the Day; Legislative Summary; Caucus Communications Summary: Week of June 27; Budget Passes with Small Raise, Bonuses – SEANC Report
· SIDE NOTE: Senator Bryant’s 2015-2016 Standing Committees
Senator Bryant’s 2015-2016
Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources Committee
Appropriations/Base Budget Committee
Appropriations on Natural and Economic Resources Committee
Education/Higher Education Committee
Judiciary I Committee
Pensions & Retirement and Aging Committee
Workforce and Economic Development Committee
Wilson Energy Tops $10 Million Savings in Residential Electric Costs
Collective savings continues to grow following September 2015 rate decrease
Wilson Energy residential customers recently reached a milestone — $10 million in savings since a historic rate decrease last fall.
The Wilson City Council voted in August 2015 to lower rates nearly 18 percent for residential customers, the largest rate cut in history. The rate decrease was made possible by the sale of power plants owned by North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency (NCEMPA), the city of Wilson’s wholesale power provider.
Wilson approved the largest decrease in rates among all the NCEMPA cities, and savings began in September 2015. In April, the collective savings reached $10 million and continues to grow every day.
Average monthly utility bills have decreased by $62 since the rate decrease was enacted.
Wilson Energy customers can see the running total at www.wilsonnc.org/10million. They also can determine how much they have saved by using the calculator on the site. There are also tips for saving even more money through energy efficiency and other programs.
Ground Breaking Ceremony on Beal Street, Rocky Mount
Sen. Angela Bryant with Mayor David Combs
and the Rocky Mount City Councilmembers
EVENTS AROUND THE DISTRICT AND MORE:
· Ridgeway Cantaloupe Festival and Cantaloupe 5k/10k: Sat. July 16, 2016, Taste the famed Ridgeway Cantaloupe and other local favorites including Brunswick Stew and festival foods. Historical displays, kiddie rides, Horseback rides, Music Vendors, local crafts and produce and more!
· Guns and Gang violence Awareness Seminar: Sat. July 16th, 2016, Presented by USYI(Children Matter) and Reclaiming Futures at the Cultural Wellness Center, 9536 NC 305 Jackson, NC 27845. Parents, Youth, Community Outreach Groups and All concerned community leaders and neighbors come out to support this initiative. We are raising awareness concerning the war against violence on our youth. The event is FREE. Refreshments will be served. For more information contact Sonya Ashe at 252-649-2010 or email at Sonya.Ashe@ncdps.gov or Marcia Winston at 888-552-5159 or email@example.com.
· Eastpointe Community Collaborative Youth Forum: Monday, Aug. 5th from 9am-2pm at the Wilson County Agriculture Center, 1806 Goldsboro St. S Wilson, NC. Registration and other information can be obtained from Cotina Thorne, SOC Specialist, at 910-298-7187 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This event is free and aimed at youth ages 14-18. Food will be provided for those who register by July 22nd, 2016.
· Gregory B. Davis Foundation (GBDF): PLEASE JOIN the Gregory B. Davis Foundation (GBDF) in partnership with Collier Harley Davidson on Sat. August 20, 2016 for the 10th Annual Bike Ride which will benefit Caregiver Support Initiatives. Ride begins at 10:00 a.m. at Collier Harley Davidson, 316 Premier Blvd., Roanoke Rapids, NC. For more information, please call 252-535-3718. Please visit our website at http://www.gbdf.org/ and visit and “LIKE US” on our face book page here!!! See flyer below and attached. See you at this year’s Ride…..LIVE TO RIDE…RIDE TO LIVE!!!
· Eastpointe Community Collaborative Drug Conference: Monday, Aug 29th from 9-11am at the NC Wayne Cooperative Extension/Wayne Center, 208 West Chestnut Street, Goldsboro, NC. Registration and other information can be obtained from Andrea Boney at 919-587-0345 or email at email@example.com.
· African American Cultural Festival: Sat. September 17, 2016, Live entertainment, African Dance, Historical Exhibits, Walking Tour, vendors and festival food. Location: Historic Courthouse Square, Warrenton, NC. 919-702-3701.
· Back-To-School Legal Clinic: Wednesday, September 18th from 12-1:30 pm the Legal Aid of North Carolina will host an informative event to help families enforce their legal rights in the North Carolina Public School System in multiple locations in North Carolina. To register and find a location nearest to you call 1-866-219-LANC (5262) or go to legalaidnc.eventbrite.com. Attendance to this event is free but advance registration is required.
GRANTS OPPORTUNITIES, AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS:
USDA Seeks Applications for Nearly $12 Million in Broadband Grants for Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, April 18, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that USDA is soliciting applications for grants to establish broadband in unserved rural communities through its Community Connect program. Community Connect is administered by USDA’s Rural Utilities Service and helps to fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not economically viable for private sector providers to provide service.
USDA plans to award up to $11.7 million in grants through the Community Connect grant program. The grants fund broadband infrastructure to help foster economic growth by delivering connectivity to the global marketplace. The grants also fund broadband for community centers and public institutions.
USDA has invested $160 million in more than 240 projects to bring broadband to unserved rural communities since the Community Connect Program was created in 2002.
The minimum grant is $100,000 for FY 2016. The maximum award is $3 million. USDA announced new rules in 2013 to better target Community Connect grants to areas where they are needed the most. To view the rules, go to https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-04-18/pdf/2016-08931.pdf
Prior Community Connect grants cannot be renewed. However, existing Community Connect awardees may submit applications for new projects, which USDA will evaluate as new applications
For more information on how to apply for grants, see page 22567 of the April 18, 2016 Federal Register.
Dual Status Youth Training Initiative: Building the Foundation for Improved Outcomes
Click HERE to review the Information Guide and Application Form!
The training will lay the foundation for selected jurisdictions to design, implement and sustain practice reforms on behalf of their uniquely defined dual status youth population. This opportunity will enable each participant jurisdiction to begin to identify areas for improvement and develop a plan to enhance case processing and system responses in order to improve dual status youth and family outcomes.
Please direct questions and submissions to:
VGCC Students Awarded Golden LEAF Scholarships
A group of 18 students from Vance-Granville Community College recently received scholarships through the Golden LEAF Scholarship program for the North Carolina Community College System. The scholarship program, designed to help North Carolinians attend the state’s community colleges, is funded through a $750,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The scholarship can be used to assist with tuition, books, fees, supplies, transportation and childcare expenses related to attending classes during the 2015-16 academic year, and industry-recognized credential testing expenses that address skill gaps upon course completion. Eligible students must demonstrate financial need and reside in rural counties that are tobacco-dependent and/or economically distressed. Scholarships for both occupational and curriculum students are available during the fall, spring and summer semesters.
Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce awarded a $809, 771.60 contract for IT security support services to Valiant Solutions, LLC of Henderson (Vance County).
N.C. Septic Tank Association Awards Scholarships
Congratulations to Lisa Danielle Pearce of Roanoke Rapids who received $1,000 grant from the NC Septic Tank Association. She was one of five recipients to receive this award.
N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority Awards
Reuse Program Funding
The N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority today approved a request for Community Development Block Grant- Economic Development funding in support of a project in Wilson County. Here are the details:
City of Wilson (Wilson County): a $500,000 loan to support the renovation of an abandoned grocery store for use by Thomas Drug Store and Home Medical Supply. The project includes removal and replacement of asbestos-based flooring and walls, installation of new HVAC and electrical systems, and upgrades to bathrooms that will make them handicapped-accessible. The loan supports a total capital investment of $1,115,289. The loan is a collaborative solution between CDBG and the Downtown Redevelopment Fund of the North Carolina Main Street Center.
The Community Development Block Grant program is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program administered in part by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. CBDG’s economic development funds provide grants to local governments in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties for creating and retaining jobs. Project funding is based on the number of jobs to be created and the level of economic distress of applicant communities.
The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority today approved a request for funding Economic Infrastructure Project in the Town of Nashville. Here are the details:
Town of Nashville (Nash County): a $292,425 grant for sewer service to support the start up of North Carolina Innovative Food Ingredients. The company, which produces sweet potato juice, is creating 36 new jobs. The project constructs a 30” sewer line that will allow the abandonment of a lift station currently operating at full capacity. The grant, which increases a $157,575 infrastructure award made in November 2014, supports a total capital investment of 20.9 million.
Vance County: A $150,000 reuse grant for a vacant building in Henderson that will support a 12-job expansion by Hoyle’s Tire & Axle. The company refurbishes, sells and services used axles. The building was constructed in 1976 and has been vacant for seven years. Renovations include lighting and electrical systems. The grant supports a total investment of $1,235,392.
The Building Reuse Program grants to local governments to renovate vacant buildings, renovate and/or expand buildings occupied by existing North Carolina companies, and renovate, expand or construct health care facilities that will lead to the creation of new jobs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties and in rural census tracts of Tier 3 counties.
Congratulations to the Halifax County
2016 National Youth Challenge Winners
Jy’Mill Veale and Shykeem Lloyd placed first in the national #ReinventCommunities Youth Challenge. The teens vision was to open what they call the HangOut in Scotland Neck and have been awarded $500 toward their project. The teens will be traveling to Los Angeles to speak with officials on how to turn their vision into a reality.
Ten WCS employees won awards during the 2016 David Simon Excellence in Education Awards held last night at Hunt High!! The awards, which debuted in 2010, stand as the highest recognition the school system bestows on employees and recognizes exceptional performance. The Simon Awards carry the name of the late David Simon, a Fike student whose response to a terminal cancer diagnosis was to become a scholar. Here is a list of the winners:
Certified Employee of the Year: Katherine Taylor, Media Coordinator, Forest Hills Middle
Classified Employee of the Year: Ashley Davis, Computer Technology Assistant, New Hope Elementary
Learn. Create. Inspire. Award: Esperanza Chavez, 1st Grade Teacher, Rock Ridge Elementary
Excellence in Content Award: Cynthia Hardy, 5th Grade Teacher, Winstead Elementary
First-Year Teacher of the Year: Harrison Lamm, PE/Health Teacher, Springfield Middle
Teacher Leader of the Year: Sara Gutierrez, 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher, Elm City Middle
Innovator of the Year: Jennifer Byrd, 5th Grade Science Teacher, Jones, Elementary
Lifetime Achievement: George Drawhorn, Assistant Principal, Daniels Learning Center
Principal of the Year: Valerie Budd, Speight Middle
Teacher of the Year: Hope Whitley, 1st Grade Teacher, Stantonsburg Elementary
Congratulations to Rocky Mount Cord Company
Last month, Honda honored 93 North American companies that supply parts and materials for Honda and Acura products at the 32nd annual Honda Supplier Conference in Indianapolis as one of Honda’s Top 2016 Service Parts Suppliers. Among those honored was Rocky Mount’s very own Rocky Mount Cord Co.
The suppliers were evaluated in the areas of quality, value, productivity improvements and on-time parts delivery. Honda believes that value is ultimately determined by the customer, yet the value is based on or ability – Honda and our suppliers together – to deliver in terms of quality, delivery, and cost.
NC Housing Finance Agency Awards Grants in the District and Surrounding Counties
The NC Housing Finance Agency Board of Directors has awarded $400,000 from the Housing Trust Fund’s Urgent Repair Program to make emergency repairs for 76 homes in your area.
· Choanoke Area Development Association of NC, Inc. will receive $200,000 to repair 50 homes in Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, and Northampton Counties.
· Nash County will receive $100,000 to repair 13 homes in Nash County.
· City of Wilson will receive $100,000 to repair 13 homes in Wilson County.
These grants will enable veterans, elderly, and disables North Carolinians with very low
NEW COMPANY COMING TO HALIFAX:
SWELECT Energy Systems to Bring 155 Jobs to Halifax County
Halifax, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory, North Carolina Commerce Secretary John E. Skvarla, III, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) today announced the arrival of SWELECT Energy Systems LLC to Halifax County. The company intends to build a 155-person workforce over the coming five years, investing more than $4.7 million in a manufacturing site and adjacent solar farm.
The company is the U.S. unit of SWELECT Energy Systems Limited, a leading name in power electronics and renewable energy based in Mylapore, India. The publicly-held parent company (NSE: SWELECTES) has installed more than 1,700 solar farms since its founding in 1983. Its buyers include major corporations seeking to adopt solar energy systems into their operations.
SWELECT Energy will hire 155 workers at its Halifax operations. Positions will include skilled operators, quality control specialists, logistics personnel and others. Annual salaries will vary by position but will average at least $30,419. Overall wages in Halifax County currently average $30,395 per year.
“Producing modules at the Halifax County facility allows us to help North Carolina meet its renewable energy goals and further support the U.S. market,” said R. Chellepan, SWELECT’s managing director. “Our partnership with North Carolina and Halifax County presents the opportunity for SWELECT to leverage 30 years of world class experience in solar manufacturing. We are delighted that our products will be ‘Made in the USA.’”
The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant of up to $600,000 from the One North Carolina Fund. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. One NC grants also require and are contingent on financial matches from local governments.
“Halifax County welcomes this leading-edge alternative energy company,” said N.C. Senator Angela Bryant. “We look forward to SWELECT Energy Systems becoming a valued member of our business community.”
“Congratulations to this global manufacturer of solar equipment on its choice of Halifax County for this exciting investment,” said N.C. Rep. Michael Wray. “I am proud of the collaboration between our local and state economic development organizations and educational and utility partners for bringing this significant opportunity to us.”
Joining EDPNC and N.C. Commerce in supporting SWELECT’s new location are the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Halifax County, Halifax County Business Horizons and Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation.
Graduates for the Week From Kittrell Job Corps Center
Makeda enrolled at Kitrell Job Corps Center(KJCC) in October 2015. She obtained her High School Diploma and completed the Bricklaying trade with a primary certification. Makeda has enrolled in classes to prepare her to take the ASVAB Test. She is planning to enlist in the US Air Force.
Michael enrolled at KJCC in November 2015. He obtained his High School Diploma and completed the Medical Administrative Assistant Trade with a primary certification. Michael is completing the application process to become a Detention Officer.
Kittrell Job Corps Center Welcomes April Pierce
Please join Kittrell Job Corps Center in welcoming Residential Advisor, April Pierce. Ms. Pierce is a 2004 Woodland Job Corps Center graduate. She brings over 10 years of experience in mentoring and counseling youth and 20 years of customer service experience.
She looks forward to making a difference in the students’ lives and preparing them for successful careers. Ms. Pierce credits Job Corps for giving her the job training skills to succeed. She looks forward to teaching Center students how to deliver exceptional customer service and prepare them for the workplace.
Debbie Hardy and Donna Hunter (not pictured) retire from Halifax County School Board. Ms. Hardy served as School Board Chair for two years and Dr. Hunter served as Chair for four years.
They both have served on the school board for 24 years.
“This week has been amazing seeing how the General Assembly works. Going to Committee Meetings and Session showed me that the Senator’s jobs are not easy. They have one meeting after another and another to where they never have time for anything. They are always on the move. I have also seen there can be intense discussion between the two political parties. They have very different points that can be valid, but even with all the discussion they can mainly come to an agreement. Sen. Bryant has allowed me to have this great experience and it has been so amazing. I will happily serve next year. I am thankful for this and I couldn’t have asked for a better Senator”.
Raleigh– The North Carolina Senate was also honored recently to have Ron Christopher Davis II, a student at Warren County High School, serve as a Page. He is the son of Ron and Shena Davis of Norlina.
“This has been a very informational week for me. I have learned a lot of information throughout this week. I would like to give a special thanks to Mrs. Hardy with helping me be a Page for Senator Bryant. I learned that when you are working in the office you are always busy and it is no room for laziness. I am very thankful that I was able to be a Page for Senator Bryant and Mrs. Hardy.
Statewide high school students in grades 9 through 12 serve as pages when the General Assembly is in session. They perform valuable duties for the Senators and their office staff. They attend daily Senate sessions, committee meetings, and assist staff members with office duties during the week they serve in the Legislature.
4-H and Firefighter’s Legislative Day at the General Assembly
June 15, 2016
Halifax, Rocky Mount, Wilson and Nashville Fire Department at the General Assembly.
Scotland Neck Firefighters celebrating Fire Service day. June 15th at the General
Assembly. From left to right: Jeremy Strickland, Chief Deborah Hopkins, Richard Scott,
Rep. Michael Wray, Assistant Chief Jeffrey Shaw, Chief Richard Pulley and Sen. Bryant.
Ethics Tip of the Day
Academic or Athletic Scholarships based on the same criteria as applied to the public are not considered gifts under the State Government Ethics Act. G.S. 138A-3(15).
HB 657: Math Standards-Died in the House
HB 657 will re-introduce standard math course into public high school curriculum. The implementation of the new curriculum would be completed by 2018.
Choice is a good thing but if the General Assembly is going to legislate curriculum change, then adequate funding to support that change needs to come with it through the costs of textbooks, teacher development and additional math instructors.
As it stands, the bill creates an unfunded mandate for our schools.
The majority of Democrats in the Senate could not support the currently unfunded mandates set forth in the bill.
SB 817: Constitutional Amendment on Income Tax Cap (Millionaire Protection Act) – Died in the Senate
SB 817 proposes putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would reduce the state’s income tax cap from 10 percent to 5.5 percent.
The current income tax rate is a flat rate of 5.5 percent. The previous tax code was a bracketed system and, as recent as 2013, set rates as high as 7.75 percent.
Republicans’ long-term plan is to bring us to a zero income tax rate. Fiscal stability in government relies on both income and consumption taxes. To rely solely on volatile sales taxes is to restrict our options. We would be placing ourselves in financial handcuffs when we don’t have to do so.
We don’t have the funds to meet existing needs of the state. To further restrict future legislatures is to fall further behind in our efforts to meet the needs of the people.
This amendment forces reduction of income tax; it is also designed to force reduction in spending at the local level. As the state continues to fail to meet spending needs, local governments will be forced to increase their tax rates to offset the cuts at the state level.
The Senate Democratic Caucus fully opposes this bill. While the bill was scheduled for a vote this week, Republicans moved the vote to Saturday, June 25 and will possibly be linked to the budget as part of negotiations.
HB 161: Certificate of Need-Died in the Senate
HB 161 calls for the full repeal of the state’s certificate of need (CON) program by 2021.
HB 763: Task on Regulatory Reform/Military Operations Protection Act-Died in the House
HB 763 would block wind turbines around military bases as a means of protecting surrounding airspace.
The bill, however, also puts in jeopardy more than $700 million in wind energy contracts across the state.
Senator Davis said on the senate floor that it is vitally important to protect our military installations, particularly Seymour Johnson Air Base. But, as we protect our bases, we must also look at ways to protect renewable energy resources. With that in mind, we want to reach a compromise that can protect both interests.
Senator Smith-Ingram urged legislators to look to maps from the Department of Defense and Federal Aviation Administration for further analysis and revisions to the bill.
Revisions will be made to the bill and will come to the senate floor next week for a third reading.
SB 897: Asheville Redistricting: Died in the House
The bill calls for establishing six districts within the City of Asheville from which city council members would represent. Currently, the city council is elected at-large across the city. This is clear and direct retribution by state Republicans against Asheville.
Senator Terry Van Duyn, who represents the city of Asheville, noted that five of the city council members offered modifications to improve representation were ignored by Republicans. “We are elected to represent our districts, not rule them,” she said on the senate floor. “This bill undermines public trust in the work we do.”
Passed 33-16, with Democrats voting unanimously against it.
HB 3: Constitutional Amendments: (See also SB 817)-Died in the House & Senate
Senator Rabin presented the Constitutional amendment to cap the state’s income tax rate to 5.5 percent. The current rate is 10 percent. Rabin said he believes it’s a smart thing to do and that North Carolina is trying to work in the 21st century.
Senator Jay Chaudhuri spoke against the bill and shared concerns that this tax cap does not reflect the state’s conservative fiscal policies that have protected its triple-A bond rating. “Part of maintaining that triple-A bond rating comes with broad powers and resources to manage market volatility – this tax cap limits that,” he said.
The bill ultimately passed in the senate 33-16 and will be sent to the house.
HB 1080: Achievement School Districts: House concurred/on to Governor
The Achievement School District (ASD) bill seeks to select five of the state’s lowest performing public schools and couple them into a single district which would be overseen by a private company rather than the state. While this is said to be an effort by Republicans to improve the quality of education in North Carolina’s lowest performing schools, Democrats have concerns about the lack of oversight that private charter school companies have in student performance and with the larger idea of turning over public schools and public funds to for-profit companies.
Senator Gladys Robinson said she would be the first to support whatever bill would help our students. But the issue with this is that the ASD model is relatively new and, with the little data that has been collected, has shown no improvement in student achievement. On the contrary, student test scores in these schools have declined.
Robinson submitted an amendment that would exclude Guilford County schools from the ASD selection process.
The amendment failed, with fellow Guilford County Senator Trudy Wade among those voting against it.
Senator Chaudhuri submitted an amendment that would exclude Wake County schools from the ASD selection process.
Senator Blue noted that, until five years ago, Wake County had no failing schools; five years ago, we fully funded our public schools.
The amendment failed, with fellow Wake County Senators Chad Barefoot and Tamara Barringer among those voting against it.
Asked Barefoot if we didn’t have enough confidence in Wake admins to identify and fix problems if we additionally fully funded their requests.
Senator Waddell and Senator Bryant submitted similar amendments excluding Mecklenburg and Nash-Rocky Mounty County schools from the ASD selection process.
Senator Apodaca motioned to table the amendments. His motion passed along party line.
Senator Bryant submitted an additional amendment to provide response options by local school board. In the amendment, a local school board could close school, adopt ASD model or adopt the principal turn around model.
Amendment failed to pass along party lines.
HB 100: Immigration: Died in the House
This bill would impose penalties on cities and counties that don’t adhere to the state’s new restrictions on personal IDs by withholding education and transportation funding. The bill directs the Attorney General’s Office to investigate anonymous claims of local government violations and then determine if penalties should be applied.
Currently no county or municipality is in violation of current state law.
Several Democrats argued on the floor that this bill threatens the safety of North Carolina’s communities and eliminates a vital avenue in which law enforcement can have a more effective relationship with the people they serve and protect. Additionally, there are concerns about the amount of power this bill gives the Attorney General’s Office with no means of transparency or accountability in the investigations process.
For example, this year, we will spend approximately $73 million on textbooks and classroom technology; by comparison, the state spent $124 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2008. Our student population and the needs in our classrooms have grown in recent years and state funding has not kept up with the growing demands.
The budget also does not adequately fund Early College Programs, which allow high school students to receive up to two years of college credit, while preparing them with superior skills they will need to compete.
An additional area of concern in the budget that will impact communities around Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, was a provision which will make it more difficult to build a light-rail system to connect them and promote mass public transit. A light rail system around the Triangle which has been in the planning stages over the past 20 years. While $138 million in state funds had been previously allocated, this budget now restricts the region’s ability to access federal funds which is the source of up to 50 percent of the funding for this project.
The budget fell short of meeting the needs of North Carolinians and did not share the priorities that would best serve this state to foster widespread economic prosperity.
Budget Passes with Small Raise, Bonuses – SEANC REPORT
The 2016 short session of the General Assembly is all but complete. The compromise on the state budget stopped woefully short of fully addressing the needs of both state employees and retirees. It includes a 1.5-percent salary increase for all state employees along with a .5-percent one-time bonus. Another $80 million has been set aside for targeted merit one-time bonuses, which equals around 1 percent of salaries as well.
The average state employee pay according to the Office of State Human Resources is $39,824, meaning the average state employee will receive a pay increase of $597.36 before taxes and another $199.12 in bonus pay. When compared to the rising cost-of-living, along with increases to the employee costs associated with the State Health Plan, state employees are sure to have even less buying power next year than they did this year.
Legislators have also failed to lay out exactly how the merit bonuses will be awarded. The Senate budget left that decision up to agency heads, which usually means that their favorite employees get all the money and rank-and-file employees, who are hurting the most, get little to nothing.
Legislators decided to turn the House budget’s much-needed 1.6-percent cost-of-living adjustment for retirees into a one-time bonus that will do nothing to combat the fact that retirees keep falling behind. Since 2010, retirees have lost 10.5-percent against the Consumer Price Index. Retirees will receive no recurring increase on their pension checks with this budget, which will only ensure that deficit will increase next year.
For the average retiree receiving $25,000 annually from the system, the bonus will amount to around $400, before taxes are taken out.
All of this is even more disheartening when you consider that Gov. McCrory asked for $500,000 of state money earmarked for emergency relief on Thursday to help him defend HB2, the controversial and largely unnecessary bill on bathrooms – that could have been used for raises and COLAs. Essentially, every state employee possibly gave up $5 to help him defend the bill.
As is usually the case in the waning days of a legislative session, SEANC lobbyists remained vigilant over attempts to move harmful bills with little debate that could have lasting negative impacts on state employees and retirees.
This year, it was House Bill 1134, the bill that would take away retiree’s rights to have dues, insurance premiums and PAC donations deducted from their pension check, as well as set a minimum retirement age of 55 for all future employees.
If you’ll recall, SEANC was able to change this bill in committee last month to remove the harmful provisions with the help of Rep. Pat Hurley (R-Randolph) and Rep. Jeff Elmore (R-Alleghany). It started to gain traction again this past week when it was moved from the House Appropriations Committee straight to the floor for a vote.
SEANC lobbyists talked to Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), who is the Chief Appropriations/Budget Writer, and House Rules Chairman Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), and successful had the bill moved back to the House Pensions & Retirement Committee, where we then negotiated with the chairmen Rep. Stephen Ross (R-Alamance) and Rep. Allen McNeill (R-Randolph) to have the language they wanted passed inserted into Senate Bill 886. The preferred committee substitute passed with unanimous support from the P&R Committee and passed on the House floor Thursday. It will be sent to the Senate for concurrence.
Had H1134 been revived and passed the House and was sent over to the Senate, the Senate could have re-inserted all of the harmful language retirees fought against in the original bill. Through the hard work of both the afore-mentioned legislators, members and lobbyists, retirees will not have their rights further infringed.
IN THE NEWS:
· A Detroit trade publication has named Wilson native Juanita Moore among its 100 most-influential women of 2016. Moore, who works as president and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, is featured in a recent issue of the weekly newspaper Crain’s Detroit Business.
· The Wesley Shelter recently received a $3,000 grant from the Food Lion Feeds Charitable Foundation. The grant will support the organization’s safe house operation that provides shelter to victims of domestic and sexual violence and homelessness.
Henderson Daily Dispatch
· Vance County is still seeking a permanent county manager.
Rocky Mount Telegram
· The Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce again rewarded several local small businesses for their success and positive impact in the community during the 2016 Small Business Awards Banquet on Thursday at the Rose Hill Conference Center. The Chamber honored businesses in four award categories highlighted by the 2016 Small Business of the Year going to Providence Bank.
· The city of Rocky Mount has been awarded three AmeriCorps VISTA members. The city is recruiting for three VISTA positions: regional visioning outcome coordinator, senior center services catalyst and neighborhood association resource builder.
· The Harrison Family YMCA and Wilson Family YMCA will host the 2nd annual “Light Up the Runway” (Glow Run 5K and one-mile Fun Run) from 6-9:30 p.m. July 9 at the Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional Airport, 7265 Air Terminal Drive, Elm City.
YOUR KIND WORDS ARE APPRECIATED:
Honorable Angela Bryant:
Thank you for your letter of congratulation and appreciation upon my departure from Halifax. It made me so proud to know that my work was appreciated. Know that I appreciated your efforts while I was living in Halifax County. Your attendance at numerous events and familiarity with those in the community was admirable. To me this was a genuine demonstration that the well-being of the residents of Halifax was a priority for you.
Sincerely, Lynn Manning-Armstrong
You are a rock star role model. Thank you for always speaking and voting your values and standing up for the “little” people. Keep it up!!
Nicole Stewart – PoliticaNC
On behalf of the Wilson County Public Library I would like to thank you for your support for funding the Grassroots Arts Program. The Library has been awarded $225.00 which friends of the Library matched so that we could bring April Farmer’s “Celebrating Dancing Stories of Africa” here for a February 20th performance in honor of African-American History Month. A professional performance such as this is too crafty to offer without grant funds. Many children in Wilson County would not have the opportunity to see such a performance if the public library did not offer it free of charge! Thanks again for your support of the Grassroots Arts Program.
B C, Director
Wilson County Public Library
Senator Bryant and Karon Hardy,
Thank you so much for presenting at the 2016 NCACAY Legislative Conference. We really appreciated your input and expertise. Thanks for all you do!
Thank you so much for sponsoring a student during the 2016 Youth Legislative Assembly (YLA) session. The weekend of YLA taught the students so much, not just the legislative process, but it allowed the students to gain valuable leadership skills. Thank you again, for your support not just as a sponsor but as a Legislator.
Follow Senator Angela R. Bryant on social media!