Public Policy Update

Natalie English

Lourdes Zapata
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Primary Election Early Voting

Early voting for the May 6 primary election begins April 24 and will conclude on May 3. Click here to view early voting locations and hours, and click here to see the primary election races. Stay tuned for additional information on the primary races in next week’s public policy newsletter. 

Budget Season Is Underway

The City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have been working on their respective budgets in preparation for the 2014-15 fiscal year. The City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County held budget workshops in recent months to discuss issues and potential funding priorities. Ron Carlee, Charlotte city manager, will present his recommended budget to City Council on May 5. There will be a public hearing on the recommended budget on May 12, followed by budget adjustments on May 14. City Council will have straw votes on May 28 and the budget is expected to be adopted on June 9 prior to the fiscal year-end on June 30. The Community Investment Plan (CIP) is a component of the budget and was approved in 2013. The plan funds $816 million in bond referenda that will be on the ballot every other year beginning November 2014.  

The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) will hear budget requests from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) on May 19. County Manager Dena Diorio will review these requests, as well as those of county departments, in advance of presenting her recommended operating and capital budgets to the BOCC on May 29. The BOCC will have a workshop on June 10 to review Diorio's recommended budget and host a public hearing on June 11. Straw votes will take place on June 12 and the FY2015 Operating Budget is expected to be adopted on June 17.

CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison presented his 2014-15 proposed budget at the Board of Education meeting on April 8. His budget highlighted the priority to make CMS employee pay more competitive by asking for a 3 percent pay increase for all CMS employees. Morrison's budget also requested funding to expand academic choice and personalize instruction by means of a digital platform. Providing more literacy programs and increasing the number of counselors, psychologists and social workers were also pillars of the budget. CMS is seeking $403 million in county money, which represents an increase of $46.2 million from the 2013-14 budget. A public hearing on the budget recommendation was held on April 22 at the Board of Education meeting,and a community meeting will take place on May 8. The Board of Education will conduct a work session on April 29, approve the budget on May 13 and submit it to the county on May 15. There will be a joint Board of Education and BOCC workshop on the budget on May 19. Click here to view Morrison's recommended budget. The county funding is supplemental to what CMS receives from the state of North Carolina. The NC General Assembly will adopt a budget for the fiscal year in late June or early July.

Hear About the CMS, CPCC and UNC Charlotte Budgets

In the spirit of budget season, the Workforce Development & Education Committee will host leaders from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte to discuss their planned budget requests. On May 7, the committee will hear from Dr. Heath Morrison, CMS superintendent; Jeff Lowrance, CPCC public information officer and special assistant to the president; and Betty Doster, special assistant to the chancellor for constituent relations at UNC Charlotte. Click here to register for the meeting and learn about the entities' requests to the county and state. The meeting is open to all chamber members.

Chamber Adopts Adjusted Legislative Agenda

On April 10, Charlotte Chamber's Executive Committee approved the Legislative Agenda Task Force's recommended legislative agenda. The document serves as a roadmap for the chamber's advocacy efforts for the upcoming North Carolina General Assembly short session that begins on May 14. Click here to view the updated agenda with adjustments supporting teacher pay increases, Common Core Standards and workforce training programs.

Luncheon to Feature Speakers Discussing America's Global Leadership Impact on North Carolina

On April 24, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition will host a luncheon to discuss the impact of global investment on the community and local businesses. Featured speakers include Sen. Richard Burr, N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker and Lt. General William E. Ingram, Jr. The event is free and open to the public, but you must register here.

Upcoming Workforce and Apprenticeship Conferences

The community recognizes that the impact and importance of a qualified workforce is a key driver of economic growth. Equally as important is the business community taking action to support workforce initiatives.

On April 28, MeckEd and the chamber will host Ready to Work: Raising a Qualified Workforce at Central Piedmont Community College's Harris Conference Center from 8:30-11:30 a.m.. The summit will  feature Bob Schwartz, author of Harvard University's nationally recognized Pathways to Prosperity report, and community leaders who will discuss ways to close the skills gap. Learn the top five ways your company can get involved and benefit from workforce investment. Most importantly, become aware of how local companies are maximizing their return on investments via internships and apprenticeships. Company participation includes Livingston & Haven, IBM, Daetwyler Corp., Carolinas HealthCare System and Bosch Rexroth. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Click here to RSVP for the summit.

Continuing the discussion on building the future talent pipeline, CPCC will host the Apprenticeship and Workplace Learning Conference on May 21 to guide employers and educators on success models for workforce training programs. The conference will share best practices and strategies for implementing programs such as apprenticeships, co-ops and internships. Keynote speaker Bill Anderson, executive director of MeckEd, along with speakers from Duke Energy, Siemens and the N.C. Department of Commerce, will offer an in-depth look at programs available for businesses. You may register for the conference here.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Hosts Immigration Event

The issue of immigration reform is a hot topic on a local, state and national level. On April 24, from 1-5 p.m., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Partnership for a New American Economy, will conduct a day of panel discussions and seminars on the impact of immigration reform on North Carolina.The event will take place at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Click here to view additional information and register.

East Boulevard Pedestrian Overlay Zoning Amendment Public Meeting

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Planning Department is hosting a public meeting to present draft amendments to the East Boulevard Pedestrian Overlay district and gather input on the recommendations. The meeting will take place on Thursday, April 24, from 6-8 p.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, located at 600 E. Fourth St., in Room 267. Click here for additional information on the proposed zoning amendment.

Rep. Bill Brawley, NCGA Transportation Committee Chair, to Speak at April 30 Meeting

The Land Use and Transportation committees will host a joint meeting featuring Rep. Bill Brawley on Wednesday, April 30, at 8 a.m. In the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA), Brawley serves as chair of the Transportation and Finance committees and Regulatory Reform Subcommittee on Local Government. He is also vice-chairman of the Commerce and Job Development Committee, in addition to serving as a member of a number of other committees. Brawley was recently ranked in the top 20 in effectiveness among the 170 members of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Brawley will speak to the committees about the upcoming NCGA short session. Click here to register for the meeting, which is open to all chamber members.

Priorities of the Aviation Industry in Charlotte

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) continues to grow - the international terminal is expanding and parking decks are being constructed. Attend the next Aviation Committee meeting on Tuesday, May 6 from 8-9:30 a.m. to learn about current happenings at the airport. Brent Cagle, interim aviation director of CLT, will walk through the Aviation Department's planned budget request to the city manager for the next fiscal year. Tracy Montross, director of government and community relations for US Airways, will provide updates on the new American/US Airways merger as well as service changes at CLT. Additionally, Wally Coppinger, executive director of the Carolinas Aviation Museum, will be on hand to remind us what a gem we have in that museum here in Charlotte. You may register for the meeting here.