RALEIGH, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Lawmakers on Wednesday hustled and bustled through the North Carolina State Legislature on their first day of the 2021 Legislative Session.
Although nothing was voted on Wednesday, senators and representatives didn’t waste any time to voice their opinions on issues that will soon be discussed in the long session. One of those issues being in-person versus virtual education in North Carolina.
“The damage that’s being done to children, both from the standpoint of educational attainment, but also in other areas we’re seeing indications that suicides are up, and mental health issues are up,” said Senator Phil Berger, (R) District 30.
Also up for discussion on the topic of education in this session will be giving teachers a raise.
“58% of our state budget is spent on education. And if that’s not enough, I don’t know how much it’ll take,” said Representative Dana Bumgardner (r) District 109.
The state budget may also be a point of contention between republicans and democrats. With a little over $4 billion of unspent money in the State’s checking account lawmakers are going to have to decide where to allocate the money.
“First we need to figure out whether that $4 billion is all one-time money, whether some of that is recurring money, and that will help dictate what we should be doing with those dollars,” said Berger.
Some Republicans said they want to put the money towards a long term two year budget and Democrats said they would rather spend it immediately on COVID-19 relief.
Also up for discussion in the coming weeks of the legislative session is Rural Broadband Expansion. Lawmakers are planning to further expand faster internet to less populated areas of the State.
“We’re going to continue to look at expanding broadband capabilities and so forth, now more than ever that’s really needed,” said Representative Dean Arp of Union County.