Senator Bill Cook - November 9 Legislative Update | Eastern North Carolina Now | On Monday, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced and awarded this year's school infrastructure grants from the new Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund to four counties - two of which are in my district, Gates and Camden

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    Press Release:

State Education Superintendent Mark Johnson Awards School Infrastructure Grants to 4 Counties

    ($2.29 Million for Camden County & $2.5 Million for Gates County)

    On Monday, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson announced and awarded this year's school infrastructure grants from the new Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund to four counties - two of which are in my district, Gates and Camden.

    During this year's legislative session we established this fund to assist our rural counties with critical public school building capital needs. Our state budget allocates $30 million in FY 2017-18 and $70 million in FY 2018-19. North Carolina has the second highest rural population in the U.S. - 34 percent of the state's population live in rural areas.

    Camden County receives $2.29 million for initial costs for a new high school to replace a structurally inadequate facility serving a third of all students in the county ($33.3 million total project cost). Additionally, Gates County receives $2.5 million to replace a structurally inadequate middle school wing ($10.6 million total project cost). For this year and next year, funding is only available for Tier 1 counties.

    After visiting both of these schools, there is no doubt in my mind that critical improvements are needed to enhance a positive and effective learning environment for our students at these schools. I thank and greatly appreciate Superintendent Johnson's commitment and attention to fostering better school facilitates for our communities in Eastern North Carolina.

    "Through these grants, we will begin to address the critical school infrastructure needs in less populated parts of our state through projects that will begin construction within 12 months," said Mark Johnson, state superintendent. "Students in outdated - and in some cases, unsafe - buildings will benefit soon from these new facilities."

Affordable Higher Education

    Holding college tuition and fees down while fully funding our state's institutes of higher learning will ensure the growth and contribution of our colleges for many years to come. N.C. is one of only two states in the Southern United States region that did not raise the tuition of our two year colleges. Additionally, legislation that we passed into law, lowers college tuition at Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke and Western Carolina University to $500 per semester for in-state students.

N.C. Unemployment Rate Lowest in 17 Years

    According to data released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina's September 2017 unemployment rate was 4.1 percent, the lowest it's been in 17 years. Thus, the last time North Carolina's unemployment rate was this low was November 2000. Our decline in unemployment and underemployment for the years 2013-2017 was 5.3 percentage points. This was the fifth largest decline in unemployment and underemployment in the country. North Carolina ranked 12th in the nation in per-capital income over the same time period. In 2016, the median household income jumped 4.5 percentage points above what it was in 2015. This was the fourth-highest growth rate in the United States. By focusing on economic growth, job creation and smart investments, North Carolina has become a model in fiscal responsibility: restraining the growth of government, eliminating and simplifying job-killing rules, building a strong infrastructure and investing in education to build a world-class work force.

Honoring Military Veterans

    As our nation celebrates Veterans Day this Saturday, we owe a debt of gratitude to our service men and women. Military officers and veterans are an invaluable asset and are the crown jewels to the state of North Carolina. Freedom is never free and it's our duty to remember and support our military members, veterans and their families. Year after year, North Carolina ranks as one of the top most military-friendly states in the nation. North Carolina is home to more than 800,000 active military and veteran families and four major military installations. These families support more than 578,000 jobs statewide and contribute $66 billion to our state annually, representing roughly 10 percent of the economy. God bless those who safeguard our liberty and freedom.

  • Contact: Bill Cook

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