Governor Cooper’s Budget Invests in History, Arts & Natural Areas

Author: Secretary Reid Wilson

Governor Roy Cooper introduced his 2023-25 budget proposal on March 15. His First in Opportunity budget notes that with a $3 billion surplus and historic investments in our communities and economy, North Carolina has real momentum. Now is the time, he says, to invest in our students, workforce and families so that every corner of our state can thrive.

The governor’s budget proposal contains numerous significant new investments in the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. If included in the General Assembly’s version of the budget, these investments will enhance our ability to tell our state’s rich history, promote and celebrate our diverse arts and culture, and preserve more of our spectacular natural areas for parks, trails and open space.

Some of the highlights from Governor Cooper’s budget for our department include:

  • Updates and expansion of out-of-date exhibits - $6 million
  • African-American monument on State Capitol grounds - $3 million
  • Significant increases in state employee pay - $20 million
  • Additional State Parks staffing for new facilities and greater visitation - $10 million
  • New Thomas Day State Historic Site in Milton (Caswell County) - $4.8 million
  • Additional NC Zoo Staff positions for new Asia continent - $6.2 million
  • Renovation and expansion of Museum of History - $100 million
  • Staffing for Schools in Parks program - $500,000
  • Additional staffing for Museum of Natural Sciences Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit - $300,000
  • NC Arts Council grants - $750,000
  • Great Trails State Fund - $25 million
  • Parks and Recreation Trust Fund - $31 million
  • Land and Water Fund - $41 million
  • Fort Fisher Aquarium renovation - $30 million
  • Zoo Aviary replacement - $60 million

These items and the governor’s other proposed investments for DNCR will improve education, spur local economic development, protect public health, make our sites accessible to more people, and strengthen communities’ resilience to climate change. I urge legislators to seriously consider all of Governor Cooper’s proposed budget investments and include them in the budget they ultimately pass.

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