02pubpenimageFINALExcept for Democrat Sen. Kirk deViere, Cumberland County politicians in Raleigh have demonstrated a refreshing display of unity, cooperation, communication and focus on the needs and priorities of the people in our community. 

First and foremost is their desire to create a stronger, more vibrant, more competitive Fayetteville and Cumberland County for residents and future generations. Finally, we have responsible leadership with vision — leaders who are placing people over politics and assuring Fayetteville and Cumberland County will be taking their places amongst the larger, more prosperous cities and counties in our state. It is this delegation that, along with a substantial number of residents, businesses and organizations, has worked for years to improve our community. For too long we have watched other North Carolina communities receive special favors and funding from our state legislature while leaders ignored the needs of Cumberland County. 

Many of our former legislators worked hard to improve the situation for Cumberland County and Fayetteville. Their efforts laid the groundwork for this current legislative delegation to garner state legislative support for much-needed projects that will impact our community for decades. This group of relentless bi-partisan leaders can only be described as a visionary tour de force for recognizing the needs and opportunities for Fayetteville/Cumberland County, the likes of which we have never seen before. 

The 2020-22 budget presented by the North Carolina Legislature brings more than $132 million in projects that benefit diverse aspects of our community. In a rare show of unity, their vision and “people over politics” leadership style has netted us big and long-lasting benefits, including projects that, once completed, will net Cumberland County $20-$40 million dollars a year in additional revenues. 

While no budget meets all the needs of the community, this budget is a once-in-a-lifetime win-win for all of us here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. A very special thank you to Rep. John Szoka, R-District 45, and Sen. Ben Clark, D-District 21, for leading this charge. 

This being said, it would be nice to celebrate our good fortune. Unfortunately, we cannot. Gov. Roy Cooper, D-N.C., has vetoed the budget. 

Why? I smell partisan politics and Cooper’s desire to impress his fellow left-leaning political cronies by demonstrating that he’s a team player willing to reject the state budget because it excludes Medicaid expansion. Cooper and political opportunists like deViere have put the possibility of this $132 million infusion into our community in jeopardy. 

Here’s what we would gain with the approved budget — or what we could lose if Cooper’s veto is upheld.

• $12 million for the North Carolina Civil War and Reconstruction History Center; $3 million in year two with anticipation of a total payout of $46 million in the years ahead

• $28.8 for school construction and renovation and repairs

• $8 million to fund Cape Fear Valley Medical Center’s physician residency program

• $1.53 million for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park

• $1.5 million for Kingdom Community Development, which includes affordable housing construction

• $900,000 for the North Carolina Military Business Center headquartered in Fayetteville

• $750,000 for Airborne and Special Operations Museum’s renovation second-year funding 

• $750,000 for Cumberland County Veterans Healthcare pilot program

• $16.2 million to Fayetteville State University

• $20 million to Fayetteville Technical Community College

Opportunities like these don’t just happen. It takes thousands of residents, businesses and organizations spending time, energy and money to make projects of this magnitude a reality for any community. It takes a dedicated group of hardworking, business-savvy political leaders who understand the needs of our community and care more about their constituents than they do about themselves or their political futures. This is why it is vitally important that we support and encourage our local legislators — Sen. Clark and state Reps. John Szoka; Marvin Lucas, D-District 42; Elmer Floyd, D-District 42; and Billy Richardson, D-District 44.

Encourage them to stand up for Fayetteville/Cumberland County constituents by keeping people before politics. Encourage them to pursue the $132 million infusion into our community by rejecting Gov. Cooper’s veto of the 2020-22 legislative budget. 

For some, this will be a bold and challenging move. However, it will demonstrate to everyone in Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the rest of North Carolina that our leadership possesses the integrity, vision and talent needed to aggressively move our community forward by doing the right thing for the right reasons. 

No doubt, tough, gut-wrenching decisions will have to be made. That’s what real leadership is all about. However, in doing so, the rewards are many and the consequences are few. Without a doubt, this budget touches many people in wonderful and diverse ways. A vote by our legislators to reject the governor’s veto will be a vote that will assure a bright and bountiful future for current Fayetteville/Cumberland County residents and future generations. 

Again, a very special thank you to our hardworking local delegation: Clark, Szoka, Lucas, Floyd and Richardson.

Keep up the good work!

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