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May 19, 2015

House Unveils Budget Blueprint

Late last week, the House appropriations subcommittees began rolling out their budget plans, the first step in the budget process, following the governor's $21.5 billion budget proposal. Since the governor's budget plan, the General Assembly has received updated revenue projections showing a $400 million surplus and numbers that will trigger additional corporate tax reductions. The House budget increases general state funding by $1.3 billion, a 6.3 percent increase, compared to a 2 percent increase in the governor's proposed budget. The budget plan includes a projected revenue increase of about 6 percent and includes a 2 percent raise for most state employees.

To read about the full House budget proposal and more of this week's legislative blog, written by Kerri Burke of McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, click here.

To review the Charlotte Chamber's 2015-2016 Legislative Agenda, click here.

Charlotte City Council Reviews Manager's Proposed Budget

On Monday, May 4, Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee unveiled his recommended city budget for the 2016 fiscal year. Carlee's proposal will help overcome the city's nearly $22 million deficit, but it includes some higher taxes and fees. City Council continues to debate how to fill a hole in the city's budget deeper than in any year of the recession.

Under the city manager's more than $2.1 billion dollar recommended budget, the $47 solid waste disposal fee for homeowners will be eliminated. Instead, it will be converted into a 1.35 cent property tax increase. According to the budget's figures, homes valued at $267,000 or less will pay fewer taxes, but those valued at $538,000 or less will pay $4 more per month. Homes valued at $1 million will pay $10.75 more per month.

According to city figures, this conversion will bring in more than $2 million in sales tax distribution back to the city. To view the manager's full proposed budget and plans to close the nearly $22 million shortfall, click here.

The council is scheduled for straw votes on amendments to the manager's budget Tuesday, May 26.

Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to Review CMS Funding Request

A special Board of County Commissioners meeting was held today, May 19, at 11:30 a.m. in the Government Center. The BOCC met for a joint lunch session with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education to receive a presentation from CMS on its FY16 funding request.

The CMS Board of Education unanimously voted to pass the budget that Superintendent Ann Clark proposed last month. Her budget, which seeks a total county appropriation of $428.1 million, focuses on literacy, making employees salaries more competitive, and more support services for students' social and emotional needs.

The budget request represents an increase of $39.9 million over the county appropriation to schools last year. It includes $8 million for charter schools - 20 percent of the total request - which means money that passes through CMS but is not spent on the district's students. The budget request also seeks $5.8 million to help the district pay for a projected enrollment growth of more than 2,400 students.

Click here to see the slide show from Clark's CMS budget presentation.

The next BOCC budget public hearing will be held on June 10 at 6 p.m. in the Government Center. Click here for more details. 

Charlotte Chamber's Regional Business Advocacy Trip to Raleigh a Great Success

On May 12, the Charlotte Chamber and members of the Charlotte business community boarded a bus to Raleigh, North Carolina to advocate on behalf of the Charlotte Chamber's Legislative Agenda, where they impressed upon legislators three key issues - taxes, transportation and incentives. Attendees began the day in Raleigh with a luncheon downtown at Bolt Bistro, where members of the Mecklenburg Legislative Delegation spoke about these three key issues.

Secretary Donald R. van der Vaart of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources began the luncheon by speaking to our members about the improvement in North Carolina's environment and his confidence in the current path moving forward. Senator Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County spoke about how the Senate is focused on developing legislation that will allow North Carolina to be competitive for all businesses - large and small. And, Representative Bill Brawley transitioned the group conversation to the upcoming transportation projects, including the high-speed railway to connect Charlotte, North Carolina to Atlanta, Georgia. with a travel time of just over two hours. Several other legislators joined us for the luncheon, including Representatives Rob Bryan, Dan Bishop and John R. Bradford III, and Senator Jeff Tarte. Several of them made brief comments and encouraged attendees to communicate with them about issues. 

The Charlotte Chamber staff took members of the Charlotte business community to walk the halls of the Legislative and Legislative Office Buildings to learn how lobbyists and legislators work together. Members spoke directly to legislators about the Charlotte Chamber's Legislative Agenda, in addition to hot issues they heard about earlier in the day during the luncheon. Members joined legislators in both House and Senate sessions in the General Assembly, observing from the galleries.

Following the time in the General Assembly, members attended the North Carolina Chamber's Government Affairs Conference at the Museum of History, where they heard from Governor Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro-Tempore Phil Berger, Speaker of the House Tim Moore, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue and House Minority Leader Larry Hall.

We want to thank all of our sponsors who supported the Charlotte Chamber's Regional Business Advocacy Trip to Raleigh and thank all of our speakers who joined us throughout our day in Raleigh, North Carolina. Click here for a recap of our day.

70th Anniversary of the North Carolina Ports

Join Paul Cozza, chief executive officer, and Greg Fennell, chief commercial officer, for a drop-in open house barbecue celebrating North Carolina Ports' 70th Anniversary on Tuesday, May 19 from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The event will be held at the Charlotte Inland Terminal on 1301 Exchange Street, Charlotte, NC 29208.

Please RSVP to Cliff Pyron here.

Business Rally for Carolina Jobs

Join top industry leaders for networking and a briefing on how to remain competitive in the global market at the 2015 Business Rally for Carolina Jobs hosted by the Nuclear Energy Institute/ The event will be held on Wednesday, May 20, from 8:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at The Westin Charlotte at 601 South College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202. 

The Export-Import Bank is critical to the competitiveness of leading Carolina export industries and to the vitality of overall U.S. competitiveness abroad. Without congressional action, the Export-Import Bank will begin winding down operation on July 1, 2015. Loss of the bank would deal a major blow to the economies of both North and South Carolina and threaten the jobs of thousands.

This event is free with invitation. Please RSVP by sending an email to supplychain@nei.org. A light breakfast will be served at 8:30 a.m and a networking luncheon is scheduled for noon.

Save the Date - 2015 Charlotte Region Chamber Trip to Washington, D.C.

The Charlotte Chamber will host its annual trip to Capitol Hill on September 8-9, 2015. The trip to Washington, D.C. will be in conjunction with the North Carolina Business & Economic Development Summit hosted by Congressman Richard Hudson. Attendees will represent the Charlotte business community during this two-day event.

Click here for more information regarding the trip to Capitol Hill. Stay tuned for registration.