The state budget was approved recently by the North Carolina General Assembly and will be signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in the coming weeks. Legislators included many of UNC Charlotte’s budgetary priorities.
"At a time when resources are scarce in every part of state government, legislators stood tall for our 225,000 students, faculty and staff," said UNC President Margaret Spellings. "We are grateful that the General Assembly worked hard to address the UNC system’s most pressing needs and help us protect the quality and affordability of education we deliver to our students."
UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois echoed Spellings comments. "We appreciate the General Assembly addressing UNC Charlotte's top 2016 legislative priorities: salary increases for all faculty and staff, eliminating the cap on state funding for development activities, funding much needed repair and renovations and funding enrollment growth that is particularly important to our fast-growing campus."
Here are the results:
State employees will get a combination of across-the-board and merit raises. The budget includes a 1.5 percent raise and a one-time bonus equal to 0.5 percent of their annual salary for all employees. UNC campuses also will receive funding to award additional one-time approximate .75 to 1 percent bonuses to EHRA employees (exempt from human resources act) based upon performance.
Legislators removed the $1 million cap on fundraising expenditures, which was an issue important to University leaders as UNC Charlotte builds momentum for a major fundraising campaign that officials expect to announce formally in September 2016.
The budget would appropriate $31 million for enrollment growth funding for the UNC system, with approximately $8.2 million for UNC Charlotte. A plan to freeze tuition for all incoming freshmen and transfer students for eight consecutive semesters was included, and the act would restrict student fee increases to 3 percent per year.
Funding for repair and renovations (R&R) to state facilities was included. Of the $81 million appropriation, the UNC system will receive half the funding to address the most critical needs across all campuses. Typically, UNC Charlotte receives about 10 percent of the system’s R&R funding.
The General Assembly overwhelmingly passed the annual UNC Self-liquidating bill, which includes approval of the funding plan for UNC Charlotte’s planned health and wellness center. University and student leaders have discussed how a comprehensive fitness facility will better serve UNC Charlotte’s growing campus population, and legislative approval was needed for the campus to finance the center’s construction.
The chancellor developed the center’s financing plan, which would eliminate the debt for the Barnhardt Student Activity Center and reduce the debt fee for the Student Union. This plan would result in a net increase in student fees of only $50 over five years to build and operate the new health and wellness center.
Designs for the planned 142,500-square-foot center are being finalized; it will be located next to the Student Union and will replace a surface parking lot. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in summer 2017 with completion by fall 2019.
"We have many people to thank for these legislative successes," said Betty Doster, special assistant to the chancellor for constituent relations. "Most notably, the legislative leadership for addressing our budget priorities."
"I want to thank the UNC Charlotte alumni, Board of Trustees and Foundation Board members who contacted legislators asking for their support of our campus."