Updated at 5:50 p.m. Jan. 18, 2020
The UNC System Board of Governors is taking the side of the Republican-led General Assembly in its budget fight with Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. The Board unanimously passed a resolution Friday urging passage of the GOP version of the budget approved by the General Assembly and vetoed by Cooper.
Interim University System President Bill Roper called on elected officials to act quickly to fund higher education.
"Please don’t make this system collateral damage in this year’s political standoff," Roper said.
Without a new budget, The UNC Board of Governors said there will be no raises for faculty and staff that would have been funded under Senate's plans and the System will halt $630 million worth of construction projects, including:
- the new Brody School of Medicine at ECU
- a health sciences building at UNC Pembroke
- a steam plant for Western Carolina University
- a library and crime lab at Elizabeth City State University
The UNC System is also delaying $130 million in repairs and renovations, and will need funding to sustain the N.C. Promise Program, which reduces tuition at three universities to $500 per semester for in-state students.
Roper said the UNC System does not have reserve funds available to cover these expenses, and directed his comments to state leaders.
"People have long said how much they support this system," Roper said. "And I ask you, please spare us the platitudes, just get the budget done."
The resolution passed by the Board of Governors also calls on trustees of colleges and universities in the UNC system to pass similar resolutions.
Cooper vetoed the Republican-backed spending plan in June. He wants higher raises for teachers and statewide Medicaid expansion. The General Assembly has not been able to override the governor’s veto without the votes of Democratic lawmakers who have sided with the governor. The General Assembly adjourned this week until late April.
“The Governor agrees that North Carolina needs to increase educator pay and make real investments in university infrastructure but instead legislative leaders insist on another round of corporate tax breaks," said Cooper's spokesman Ford Porter in a statement. "The Board of Governors should continue to tell the legislative leaders who appointed them to compromise and pass a budget that is good for education and our state.”
In their first media availability since announcing a $2.5 million settlement with the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Board Chair Randy Ramsey and UNC System President Bill Roper declined to answer any questions about the deal, citing ongoing litigation. A district court judge is re-examining the settlement after a civil rights law firm raised questions about the Sons of Confederate Veterans' standing in the case.