Over the course of the last week there has been a flurry of budget activity at the General Assembly. This culminated today when, as expected, Gov. Cooper vetoed the $24 billion-dollar budget. This action will assuredly result in an override attempt but, due to the lack of a Republican supermajority, it is increasingly unlikely that an override will be successful. If the attempt is unsuccessful, a new compromise budget will need to be developed and Pitt County could stand to lose millions.
Knowing that our Pitt County representatives are crucial swing votes in the current political chess match, budget builders included lucrative provisions in the compromise budget that would greatly benefit all of eastern North Carolina. These provisions include long sought-after planning and construction funds for a new medical education facility for the Brody School of Medicine and the removal of the Senate’s proposed cuts to Vidant’s Medicaid reimbursement rates. The loss of either of these provisions in a renegotiated budget deal would result in tens of millions of dollars being removed from the Greenville and Pitt County economies. Our Pitt County delegation should not let this occur.
Over the past several years, the Chamber has lobbied the General Assembly and UNC Board of Governors to commit to funding a new medical education and research facility at ECU. Now that this language is included in the budget, we believe that eastern legislators should do everything within their power to ensure that this critical funding makes its way to Pitt County. A new medical education and research facility at ECU is a gamechanger for our region as it would creative numerous jobs during construction, bring additional talent and research funding to our area, and would ultimately increase the overall teaching capacity of the Brody School of Medicine.
Similarly, the Chamber as fought against attempts to fundamentally change Vidant Medical Center’s reimbursement rates during the current legislative session. While we have made little progress in challenging the State Treasurer’s proposed cuts, the removal of the Senate cuts to Vidant’s Medicaid reimbursements was a welcomed change in the compromise budget. Were the Senate changes not removed from the budget, Vidant would have been financially decimated. Now, with those provisions removed, many patients and providers can breathe a little easier knowing that the primary source for healthcare in the east is a little safer.
All of these positive compromises that were included in the current budget must be maintained in the final budget, whether through override support or through continued negotiation via our eastern NC legislators.
The Greenville-Pitt County Chamber Commerce recognizes the importance of Vidant Medical Center and its partnership with ECU’s Brody School of Medicine in providing quality and essential medical services to the residents of eastern North Carolina. As such, the Chamber supports continued funding for both entities and stands against any attempt to reduce funding to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of our residents.
Now, more than ever, we encourage the Pitt County delegation to continue fighting to support of both organizations.