Gov. Roy Cooper announced his budget adjustments for the 2020-2021 fiscal year during a press conference today. The budget includes guidance on using North Carolina’s remaining $900 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.
“This pandemic has not concealed our weaknesses; it has exposed them,” Cooper said. “It’s good that our state has more than $900 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund money that we can invest wisely to fight this virus and tackle these weaknesses head-on.”
Of that $900 million, $200 million is allocated from coronavirus relief funds for supporting local governments and $150 million would be distributed to counties in North Carolina, according to the budget. Alamance County is allocated $3,289,822, according to the proposed budget.
Cooper also proposed that $175 million go toward public health services, including coronavirus testing and contact tracing. In the proposal, $49 million is allocated to stockpiling personal protective equipment for the state and $132 million for K-12 schools to support at-risk students, increase access to technology and provide PPE.
“The budget would support at-risk students, get more people connected to technology and provide protective equipment to keep students and educators safe,” Cooper said.
The state has until Dec. 30 to spend the funds, according to North Carolina State Budget Director Charlie Perusse.
Cooper also proposed expanding Medicaid and investing in health care infrastructure using bonds to respond to issues such as unemployment and a loss of health care that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“North Carolina is one of only 12 states that still hasn’t expanded Medicaid,” Cooper said. “We can expand Medicaid right now if the legislature would agree. Though it’s been overdue for years, there’s never been a better time or greater need to do the right thing.”