The following is a press release from Sen. Deanna Ballard
A standalone bill with all of the school safety measures included in the budget passed by the General Assembly – but that have been held up by Governor Cooper’s Medicaid expansion ultimatum – received a favorable report in the Senate Appropriations Committee this morning.
This legislation is the latest in a series of bills introduced by the legislature that contain single issues from the budget on which there’s already broad agreement. Both the Governor’s compromise budget and the budget that passed the legislature contain the same funding for school safety measures as the bill.
House Bill 75 appropriates more than $68 million over the next two years for a number of measures to make schools in North Carolina safer. This includes $43 million to hire new school mental health support personnel, $9 million in additional funding for the School Resource Officer (SRO) grant program to provide matching funds from the state for public elementary and middle schools to hire additional SROs, $6.1 million for school safety equipment grants, $4.5 million for school safety training grants and $4.5 million to provide crisis services for students.
“Today more than ever, parents want to know their children are safe when they send them to school. Also, school communities deserve the proper resources to have safe, secure buildings to ensure they are protected from any threats that may arise,” said Sen. Deanna Ballard (R-Watauga). “Both Democrats and Republicans can agree that protecting our schools is a priority, and I am glad we were able to rescue this funding from the ongoing budget impasse. Children’s safety should not be delayed any longer because of a disagreement on an unrelated topic and I hope the Governor does not jeopardize that safety to play political games.”
The General Assembly previously passed bills with salary increases for state employees, prison employees, SBI and ALE officers, and highway patrol officers that Governor Cooper signed into law. However, he vetoed legislation with funding to transform the state’s Medicaid program even though his own Secretary of Health and Human Services supported the bill and the Governor included the funding in his own budget proposal.
Governor Cooper vetoed the General Assembly’s initial budget in June and the budget impasse has now lasted for more than two months as the Governor refuses to sign any budget unless the legislature first agrees to expand Medicaid.
Governor Cooper recently said that he would not separate Medicaid expansion from the budget impasse, “end of discussion.”